Alarm raised over online child abuse

IN SUMMARY

  • Some sex pests pose as minors to win the confidence of the children before preying on them, says report

 

Many children are being abused online but they are too scared to tell their parents.

And some of the sex pests pose as minors to win the confidence of the children before preying on them, a new research warns.

In some cases, the adults demanded sexual relationships, while others exposed them to pornography.

And most worrying for parents, most of the children did not report the horrific experiences even to teachers at school, according to the study by The Cradle, a children’s rights lobby.

The researchers interviewed 325 children aged between 11 and 18 and 20 parents in Nairobi.

Twenty six per cent of the respondents said they had agreed to a date with adults they had met for the first time on the Internet.

Of these, 15 per cent said they took a friend with them to the meeting. None of the respondents told their parents or guardians of the meetings. However, almost half of those who reported their nasty encounters said their complaints were not acted upon.

The researchers found parents were not sparing time for their children and some were exposing them to sexual predators on the cyberspace.

The report, titled, “Beyond Borders – An Explanatory Study on Child Online Safety in Kenya”, says most children do not disclose negative experiences to parents/guardians.

Regulate access

On Tuesday, Sotik MP Joyce Laboso said parents should be vigilant and regulate their children’s access to the Internet.

“If they are literate then they would know the risks looming in cyberspace and would be in a better position to warn and protect them,” Ms Laboso at the launch of the report in Nairobi said.

She also urged parents to discourage their children from posting personal information and pictures on social networks.

Rachuonyo MP James Rege said with the advent of the mobile phone, children had unprecedented access to the Internet.

“Children think it is ‘cool’ to post pictures and videos on their social network accounts such as Myspace, Facebook and Twitter, not knowing this is what attracts online sexual predators,” Mr Rege said.

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