In the ever-expanding world of the Internet, social media and “smart” technology, where over 57 per cent of internet users surveyed said they talk to others online more than they do face-to-face, the need for knowledge and mechanisms to protect the users is crucial. Nowhere is this truer than the locations and communities who have been reached most recently by these technologies.
World Vision’s office in the Middle East and Eastern European region identified increased Internet use by children and youth in the communities where we operate as a growing threat to children; putting them at risk of: identity theft, cyber bullying, pornography exposure and being trafficked.
As a result, the Keeping Children Safe Online project was launched in 2009 to provide youth and their parents the knowledge and tools they need in order to stay safe online.
Now in its fifth year, the programme has expanded and the project is being incorporated into World Vision’s Child Protection and Participation work in Latin America and Africa. Additionally, the tools (which were nominated for an award for the best tools to help kids protect themselves online in Europe) have been translated into three additional languages: French, Spanish and Portuguese, providing children across the globe the chance to keep themselves safe online.
In the countries where the programme initially launched, local authorities have taken ownership of the processes and incorporated the activities into their ongoing work, ensuring the sustainability and ongoing protection of children. For example: schools in participating countries have adopted the tools provided by World Vision to include online protection in their curricula and e-Helplines and Hotlines were developed and included as a component of each country’s larger reporting and referral (R+R) mechanisms.
To date, the project has reached more than 5,800 children, 4,800 parent and 3,000 teachers through training and peer-to-peer projects that help keep children and youth safe online.