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COA urges education on self-awareness, vigilance as kidnappers employ technology

Child Online Africa (COA) has observed how technology is being used to facilitate kidnapping in Ghana and has therefore called for the promotion of self-awareness and vigilance among young people.

Awo Aidam Amenyah, Executive Director of Child Online Africa, who called for a proactive and dedicated action to ward off abduction, reiterated the need for the youth to be conscious of their own safety and security.

She was speaking at the launch of this year’s Safer Internet Day Africa in Accra on Thursday.

Safer Internet Day (SID) is considered one of the strategic opportunities to initiate conversation with children and young people regarding their responsible use of the technology space.

“The Internet, and for that matter, the online world is very vast and borderless, and difficult to control. Therefore our only best option is education and awareness creation among our children and young people, to empower them to access the online world in a responsible manner,” Awo Aidam Amenyah remarked.

Below is her full statement

Recently, we got to know through reports in the media that a number of our young girls have been abducted. In some cases, the girls have been missing for five months and still counting.

From the various accounts, it has become clear some of the abductions may have been technologically facilitated. This calls for a proactive and dedicated action to promote self-awareness and vigilance particularly among young people to become conscious of their own safety and security.

Safer Internet Day (SID) is one of the strategic opportunities we have to initiate conversation with children and young people regarding their responsible use of the technology space. The Internet, and for that matter, the online world is very vast and borderless, and difficult to control. Therefore our only best option is education and awareness creation among our children and young people, to empower them to access the online world in a responsible manner.

This is one of the prime reasons why Child Online Africa decided to intensify and expand its child online safety advocacy work beyond the borders of Ghana into the rest of Africa as a whole.

SID is a landmark campaign delivered locally through a number of Safer Internet Centres (in Europe) and Safer Internet Day Committees (beyond Europe), and it is backed by the Better Internet for Kids’ line of work (coordinated by European Schoolnet on behalf of the European Commission). The day is marked in February of each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people across the world.

Although the campaign originally started in Europe back in 2004, it has grown year on year since that time, and was celebrated in more than 140 countries in 2018.

With the support of some of you from Government, Private sector, law enforcement, Civil society etc., we have been on this journey for 5 years and in our 5th year we are extending ourselves into other countries with the social gospel of Internet safety.

We have branded it #SIDAfrica because this continent has its unique culture and context when it comes to the conversation around responsible use of ICTs. Therefore, it will be appropriate to design an awareness forum to reflect and suit the continent’s peculiar needs. The inspiration for the #SIDAfrica content is based on The Office of the eSafety Commissioner in Australia and the European Commission.

It is in this spirit of the worldwide theme for #SID2019: ‘Together for a better internet’, that we encouraged all Africans to collaborate with their communities and support each other in the awareness creation to develop in our children the critical skills of RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, REASONING AND RESILIENCE (the 4Rs) required for navigating the online world.

We wish to emphasize in the past five consecutive years, this event could not have been possible without the tremendous support of SID Partners like: World Vision International (WVI), Facebook, Media Foundation For West Africa (MFWA), Plan International, Mutichoice Africa, MTN Ghana Foundation, Innovare Learning. Previously it has been Tigo, Vodafone, FirstBanC Group, National Communications Authority. With strategic partners like the Africa Union Commission, National Commission on Civic education, Ghana Education service, Ministry of Communications, IVYLEE PR Advisory, Department of Children under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social protection and the Data Protection Commission.

Continentally, Uganda Communications Commission –Uganda

Defence for Children International and the Ministry of Information and Communications – Sierra Leone.

Public Private Development Center and Initiative for Food Environment and Health Society (IFEHS) – Nigeria.

ThomiAfrica – South Africa

A Common Future – Cameroun

National Federation for Child Rights Organizations (FENADEB) – Burundi.

Mtoto News and CSO Forum – East Africa region.

Brighter Initiative for Revitalization and Development (BIRD-Liberia) – Liberia.

Trace Kenya – Kenya

Disability Federation – The Gambia

Basic Education Association – Ethiopia.

The National Council for Childhood & Motherhood – Egypt.

In our view, it is difficult to hold anyone person or institution accountable for the protection of children and young people online. But we believe that the protection of our children within the digital space is and remains a shared responsibility. We all have a role to play, therefore let us come “Together for a better internet”. #SID2019 #SIDAfrica #SIDGhana www.childonlineafrica.org/sidafrica

As has happened in the previous years, this year’s event will take place concurrently in over three hundred (300) communities and about two hundred (200) districts across the country through the strategic partnership of our new partner, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Department of Children. We expect to directly reach more than thirty thousand (30,000) children and young people across Ghana.

We wish to encourage you our partners in the media to use and avail your platforms to support this course. Help us to empower our children with the tools and knowledge they require to stay safe online.

#SID2019 #SIDAfrica #SIDGhana

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