“Every child having access to a smart phone or laptop and with access to social media , is a potential victim of online sexual abuse. Perpetrators have no religion, caste, creed or color and no restrictions on place or distance worldwide, having unregulated access possible for any child in any corner of the world. It is a scientific fact, that rehabilitation of a child sex offender is almost impossible and that he or she will repeat the act of abuse at the earliest opportunity. Governments across world have a zero tolerance policy to child sex abuse and have to do their best to co-operate in case of cross border offences. The child sex offender could be already in your home, just a click away, no matter wherever you are living on this globe.
Our children are vulnerable and need protection. We as a society are in dark about a lot of things the younger generation is indulging in . It is an inconvenient truth the most of us do not want to face or address this issue. All recent reports across the world show a steady rise in the number of children being abused online with most disturbing effects such as depression and suicide. Delivery mechanisms of education are heavily relying on technology, encouraging children across the world to spend more time on the internet. A Safe internet is therefore a prerequisite.
Therefore, It is essential for thinkers, social workers and also those engaged in Govt or education systems to understand the extent of the problem, find ways and means of protecting the child and work towards becoming a hostile and an intolerant civil society against child sex abusers.”
Cyber Law Expert
Rotary’s objective is to create awareness amongst stakeholders in education about online childe sexual exploitation and equip them to prevent and protect children from online child sexual abuse .
Online and Offline sexual exploitation and abuse of children is the most dark reality of modern life which is not getting acknowledged by society in India for various reasons. It could be lack of information and awareness, taboo of the subject in general or is merely brushed under the carpet as it is an uncomfortable truth to face. As per a report in the Economic times on 14th July 2014, about 400 cases have been registered relating to sexual exploitation of children under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act 2012 ( POCSO Act ).
As use of internet spreads widely and has reached almost every household , it is now imperative for Parents, Teachers, School Authorities, Police , NGOs and Other care givers to understand this menace of online child sexual exploitation that is silently having a devastating effect on our children.McAfee, part of Intel Security, has released findings of its annual study, the Tweens, Teens and Technology 2014 report, which examines the online behaviour and social networking habits of Indian tweens and teens. According to the research, two-thirds (66%) of youth in India have had some experience with cyber-bullying.36% of youth having been cyber bullied themselves. Of those who responded they were cyber bullied, 46% responded it was due to appearance while 45% answered due to their intelligence level. 40% stated religion/race was the driving factor. While the study reveals cyber bullying continues to represent a serious problem for youth, the 2014 survey found 57% of youth would not know what to do if they were harassed or bullied online.
The objectives of the awareness programs
The awareness programs are meant for anyone working directly with children and not limited to
Our knowledge partners will conduct training programs for train the trainer after completion of which the trainer will be equipped to conduct awareness programs for stakeholders by using educational resources provided by the knowledge partners. To know more Contact Us .
Rotary International with its wide network of Rotary Clubs, Rotaract Clubs and Interact Clubs have access to stakeholders in education and can conduct awareness programs or TOT with support from our knowledge partners or local experts. Standardized content or framework content is available with us which can be modified with the help of local experts to suit the audience. To know more Contact Us.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) conducted a survey in 2014 in metropolitan cities (8-13 years) wherein 73% minors where found to be facebook users despite of the age-restriction of 13 years. McAfee Tweens, Teens & Technology Study (2014) was conducted across metro cities in India (8-17 years) wherein it was found that 61% of youth think that their parents can't keep up with them when it comes to technology. To add more, 64% of young people still manage to hide their online behaviours from their parents and 62% would still change their online behaviour if they knew their parents were watching. Moreover, 52% children shared that, their parents simply don’t care about online activity.
Are these statistics alarming ? Or is it ok to let our children use the internet without any supervision , intervention or control ? Are our children safe online ? Are we aware of the threats or risks our children get exposed when they are online ? Or is it just one more thing that we as parents have no control over !
Let first take a quick look of the threats and risks our children face online. It can be summarized in 3 C’s. Content, Contact and Conduct
Content risks: The child or young person is exposed to harmful material, where the child is only a recipient. Content risks arises out of harmful material such as illegal content, harmful content or harmful advise. For eg: sexual content, child abuse images, racist content, pro-suicidal sites and inaccurate or misleading content
Contact risks: The child or young person participates perhaps unknowingly or unwittingly in adult initiated online activity; Contact risks can be Cyber grooming, online harassment, cyber bullying, illegal interactions, problematic content sharing or threatening or intimidating communication.
Conduct risks: The child or young person is a perpetrator or victim in peer-to-peer exchange;Conduct risks are when the child engages in hostile peer actitvity, cyber bullying , flaming or trolling, sexual harassment or creating and uploading inappropriate content.
Online behavior of children exposes them to these risks such as over-sharing. Many children share details such as address, contact details and private information online with unknown people (virtual friends). Moreover, children also share their personal photos or videos on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. without paying heed at the privacy settings. McAfee Study state that; 92% children have posted something risky online. 70% children have posted their personal information like e-mail address, contact number or home address 55% tweens and teens believe Online Identity theft does not apply to them. 51% claimed that they do not care about privacy settings.
The same study results came up with the fact that 53% children have met someone in person who was met online. This shows that kids may not realize the fact that, connecting to unknown people online has high risks, as people may create a fake profile and pretend something different than who they are. Can you remember the famous cartoon with the slogan “On the internet, nobody knows you are a dog!” by Peter Steiner in 1993 in “The New Yorker”? It is still relevant !
Children also are likely to easily fall prey to those popups where you get a message like “you have won $100000”, “Win a Lap-top. Click here.” etc. while they are playing games or surfing online. Moreover, they may also respond to the mails wherein they have been told to win a lucky draw and there are chances that kids provide the personal information that is asked. Another financial pitfall is online gambling which is prohibited by the law in India. Additionally, they may fall prey risks related online shopping from fake sites.
A study by Microsoft (2012) on online bullying in the age-group 8-18 years revealed that 53% children have been subjected activities which can be considered online bullying. On the similar lines, McAfee Study reports 50% youth being cyber-bullied online.
Internet dependence is another major factor exposing children to cyber risks. McAfee Study which reports 70% spend more than 5 hours on the Internet daily. The National Institute of Mental and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) Bangalore study (2014) reports that 73% of teenagers in urban India are affected by “psychiatric distress” and overuse of technology has been cited as one of the major reasons.
So what can we do ?
Some Suggestions :
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO)
The most important provisions of the Act
Special Features of the Act
Some of the child-friendly procedures which are envisaged under the POCSO Act are as follows
Offences under POCSO
Punishments for Offences covered in the Act are
Procedure for reporting the case
Definition of Sexual Assault
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