WHO Outlines Steps for Reducing Online Violence Against Children

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By our Correspondent

Confirmed reports say that the World Health OrganisationWorld Health Organisation (WHO) published a report Friday, aimed at helping stakeholders worldwide end the growing scourge of violence against children online.

In a new report, WHO stated “What works to prevent online violence against children,” focuses on ways of curbing the grooming of youngsters via the Internet, sexual image abuse, cyber aggression and harassment in the form of cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, hacking and identity theft.

Also, the report showcases strategies and best practices to better protect children.

Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department of Social Determinants of Health said in the report, “Our children spend more and more time online and as such, it is our duty to make the online environment safe.”

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Dr. Krug pointed out that the report highlights the importance of implementing educational programmes directed at children and parents to prevent online violence.

This is as studies have shown their effectiveness in reducing levels of victimisation, curbing abusers and associated risk behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse.

He continued: “This new document provides for the first time a clear direction for action by governments, donors and other development partners, showing that we must address online and offline violence together if we are to be effective.”

Accordingly, the report recommends implementing school-based educational programmes, promoting interaction among youths, and engaging parents.

The report again underscores the importance of training young people in assertiveness, empathy, problem-solving, emotion management and seeking help, among other skills.

And WHO pointed out that educational programmes were more successful with multiple and varied delivery formats such as videos, games, posters, infographics and guided discussions.

Furthermore, the report argues that comprehensive forms of sex education could reduce physical and sexual aggression – particularly in dating online, reducing partner violence, and tackling homophobic bullying.

It argued that the effectiveness of sex education has been confirmed in countries across the whole development spectrum.

Hence, improvements must be made in several areas, according to the report.

It emphasises that given the overlap of problems and solutions, it noted that more violence prevention programmes were needed to address the problem, together with offline violence prevention.

Then it argues, “As strangers are not the sole or even the predominant offenders online, less emphasis should be placed on stranger danger.

It said, “Instead, more attention should be paid to acquaintances and peers, as they are responsible for a majority of offences.”

Additionally, thus, given that looking for romance and intimacy online are major sources of vulnerability, the report spotlights the need to emphasise healthy relationship skills.

Thetefore, from fostering learning to developing personal and professional skills and expressing creativity, the internet offers a great deal to children and young people, the report stressed.

Not withstanding, governments must find the right balance between developing digital opportunities and protecting users from harm.

This is why the UN health agency is committed to contributing to better understanding all forms of violence against children and helping to guide the international response.

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