BY TAPIWA ZIVIRA
With children and adolescents under 18 accounting for a third of internet users around the world, risks of anonymous bullying, exposure to inappropriate content, the production and sharing of child sexual abuse material online remains high, and Zimbabwe is no exception.
With more reliance on the internet for e-commerce, e-learning and social networking, the capacity of Zimbabwe’s law enforcement and child protection agents is always challenged by new and more sophisticated online criminal activity targeting mainly children and adolescents.
In light of that, Unicef is working with the Zimbabwe Government to launch a study that helps to understand children’s online behavior in Zimbabwe and their risks to online violence and abuse, to strengthen the legal framework and to build the capacity to investigate online child sexual abuse-related crimes, Unicef Zimbabwe Country Representative Laylee Moshiri has disclosed.
Speaking at an event to mark Safer Internet Day held at Harare High School in Mbare on Tuesday, Moshiri said;
“These are important developments that reflect Zimbabwe’s commitment to create a safe and empowering environment for children online.”
“We want to work together with you to find the solutions you need to tackle the challenges of today, and to build a better future for our children and the world they will inherit.”
Moshiri said the significant online presence of children and adolescents under 18 is evidence that “it is more important than ever to teach our children how to be informed digital citizens.”
“Parents can do this by fostering open communication with children about how technology can and should be used and by setting clear expectations and boundaries. It is essential to keep communicating with children in open and honest ways and let them know that they can always approach parents or caregivers if something online makes them uncomfortable or it potentially dangerous,” said Moshiri.
The event, was attended by ICT Deputy minister Jenfan Muswere, government officials, senior police officers, teachers, officials from Save the Children and Childline, and about 100 students from 10 high schools in the capital,