Majority of students sampled in a survey in selected Senior High Schools in the Greater Accra Region by the Cyber Security Authority (CSA) have encountered sexual content while online and met online strangers in person.
According to the survey, 2,331 of them had encountered sexual content while online, 2,025 met online strangers physically, 1,418 experienced romance scam involving money, 866 experienced romance scam involving sex, 830 posted sexual contents and 769 encountered bullying, all online.
Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako, Acting Director-General, CSA, in a speech read on his behalf at the maiden edition of the National Cyber Security Challenge in Accra, said as alarming as the figures were, it clearly indicated that the internet space posed serious threats to children despite the many opportunities including communication, learning and access to information from various parts of the world it presented.
He noted that children were some of the most active users of the internet, hence, it behoved on law enforcers, parents, guardians and teachers, to protect and secure them from all forms of abuse including those online.
The Challenge is organised by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation and CSA to create awareness on cybersecurity best practices for students and encourage them to stay safe online.
It is also to sensitise them on career opportunities in cybersecurity and ultimately develop a cybersecurity culture among young children.
The CyberSecurity Month, celebrated every year in October is to raise awareness for the citizenry to develop a cybersecurity culture and stay safe whilst using digital technologies to develop and enhance their lives.
The CSA, the Acting Director- General, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, developed a National Child Online Protection Framework aimed at tackling the incidents of Child Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse including child sexual abuse material, online harassment, and cyberbullying against children.
It was also to prevent inappropriate collection and possession of children’s data by service providers.
“This Framework when approved by Cabinet will be enforced together with the provisions of the Cybersecurity Act 2020 (Act 1038) section 62-66 and other international conventions to punish all who abuse the rights of children online and provide guidelines on how children can stay safe whilst online.”
“The Cyber Security Authority is putting in place the required structures to create a safe digital ecosystem for the children of Ghana but the greater responsibility lies on parents, teachers and the children themselves,” he stated.
Madam Ama Pomaa Boateng Deputy Minister of Communications, underscored the need for collaboration to develop cybersecurity among the populace, particularly, children.
“We must be deliberate about working together in the interest of our children. May today’s National Cybersecurity Challenge promote the needed education and awareness for a safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people and inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly,” she said