Plan International Ghana, an advocacy and supportive nongovernmental organization (NGO) for the welfare of children, has commenced a sensitization programme to promote safety among children especially girls on the cyberspace.
The step was as a result of the rising numbers of cyber insecurity especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with its e-learning requirements, of which the majority of the children that have fallen victims are girls.
A study conducted by Plan International Ghana revealed that some of the girls were harassed to succumb to abusive acts from the criminals or have their obscene images illegally or manipulatively obtained shared on social media.
Plan commenced the programme on Monday October 11, when it mobilized students from Junior and Senior High Schools and some international and local NGOs to commemorate this year’s International Day of the Girl Child.
The Global theme is: “Digital Generation, Our Generation”, while Plan International Ghana’s theme is: “Girls Get Freedom Online – Safety from Cyber Crime”.
Mr Asum Kwarteng Ahensah, the Acting Country Director, Plan International Ghana, said girls were disproportionately disadvantaged globally in varied spheres of life such as education, reproductive health, nutrition protection, in the cyberspace.
It was for this reason that Plan adopted its theme from the global theme to seek the protection of girls in the context of the growing cybercrimes within the fast growing and complex cyber environment, he said.
According to a study conducted by Plan on the cyberspace, he said nine in every 10 respondents had been bullied online and as a result, some had had mental effects.
The next five years projects, a more insecured online usage, according to a study, internet users would need to buy security, he said, adding that girls and all younger ones who were vulnerable, therefore, needed to be enlightened on how to protect themselves from cybercrimes.
Mrs Awo Aidam Amenya, the Executive Director of Child Online Africa and Chairperson for the event, said the internet had introduced psychological problems to many users and has become an open source of insecurity for girls.
Research, she said had shown that about 70 per cent of internet users were confronted with sexual contents online, 42 per cent got into self-harm or suicide, 78 percent into drug or alcohol abuse, and 76.6 per cent suffered bullying.
“We need to get girls the vocabulary to say ‘no’ to anyone who wants to take advantage of them,” she said.
Plan International Ghana used the platform to launch its “My Power” app, an application designed to connect young girls to mentors and each other while creating a safer online space for personal development.
The nongovernmental organization entreated young people who were active internet users to download the app on Google Play, App Store, and on the web for a safer internet experience.