Wednesday, 8 June 2016

UN says young people are in danger of online sexual abuse

A new study by UNICEF said eight out of 10, 18-year-olds disclosed that young people are in danger of being sexually abused or taken advantage of online.
It said in Geneva that the study revealed that more than five out of 10 think that friends participate in risky behaviours while using the internet.
The report, "Perils and Possibilities, Growing Up Online," is based on an international opinion poll of more than 10,000 18-year-olds from 25 countries.
It also revealed young people's perspectives on the risks they face growing up in an increasingly connected world.
Cornelius Williams, UNICEF Associate Director of Child Protection, said the internet and mobile phones have revolutionised young people's access to information.
``The poll findings show just how real the risk of online abuse is for girls and boys.
"Globally, one in three internet users are a child,’’ he said.

Williams said the aim of the report is to amplify adolescents' voices to help address online violence, exploitation and abuse, and make sure that children can take full advantage of the benefits the internet and mobile phones offer.

He said the new report found that adolescents appeared confident with their own ability to stay safe, with nearly 90 per cent of interviewees believing they can avoid online dangers.

Williams said approximately six out of 10 said meeting new people online is either somewhat or very important to them, while 36 per cent strongly believe they can tell when people are lying about who they are online.

More than two-thirds of girls, 67 per ``cent strongly agree they would be worried if they received sexual comments or requests over the internet, this compares to 47 per cent of boys.

``When online threats do occur, more adolescents turn to friends than parents or teachers, but less than half strongly agree they know how to help a friend facing an online risk,’’ he said.

Williams said other findings included; two-thirds of interviewees in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean either believe strongly, or somewhat, that friends put themselves at risk online, compared to 33 per cent in the United States and United Kingdom.

In the Middle East and North Africa only 41 per cent strongly agree and an additional 37 per cent agree somewhat.
Adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa appear to value meeting new people online most, with 79 per cent saying it is either very or somewhat important.
In the U.S. and UK, 63 per cent said it is not very, or not at all important to meet new people online.

It added that in the Central European countries, 63 per cent of interviewees strongly agree they would tell a friend if they felt threatened online, compared to 46 per cent who would tell their parent, while only 9 per cent would tell a teacher.

Williams said to engage children and adolescents in ending violence online, UNICEF is launching ``ReplyforAll’’, which is part of its global End Violence Against Children initiative.
``ReplyforAll puts adolescents' front and centre as messengers and advocates to keep themselves safe online.
He said children and adolescents would be asked to give their advice on the best ways to respond to online violence or risks and to raise awareness among friends through social media.

Williams said this work has been supported by the WePROTECT Global Alliance, which is dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children online through national and global action.

The representative said UNICEF, together with the WePROTECT Global Alliance, are calling on national governments to establish coordinated responses between criminal justice systems.

``This to include law enforcement, and child welfare, education, health and the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sectors, as well as civil society, to better protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.

He resolved that when young people, governments, families, the ICT sector and communities work together, we are more likely to find the best ways to respond to online sexual abuse and exploitation.

Williams said that this would enable them to send a strong message that confronting and ending violence against children online, indeed anywhere is all of our business.