Geneva on December 3, 2013:The World Health Organization published a new report Friday, which outlines ways to address growing concerns about online safety for children.
The report, titled “What works for preventing online violence against children,” outlines strategies and best practices that can be used to protect children. This report examines two types of online violence: child sexual assault, including grooming, and cyberbullying.
“Our children spend more time online. As such, it’s our duty to make sure that the online environment is safe,” says Etienne Krug (Director of the WHO Department of Social Determinants of Health). “This document gives governments, donors and other development partners a clear roadmap for action. It shows that online and offline violence must be addressed together in order to make a difference.
The report emphasizes the importance of educational programs directed at parents and children to prevent online violence against children. Studies have demonstrated that such programs are effective in reducing violence victimization, perpetration, and related risk behaviors like drug abuse and alcohol consumption.
The WHO recommends that schools implement school-based education programmes with multiple sessions, youth interaction and parents engagement. The WHO stated that the WHO also stressed the importance of teaching youth life skills like empathy, assertiveness and problem-solving.
Educational programmes also have a greater chance of success if they include multiple delivery formats, such as posters, videos, infographics, infographics, and games.
Comprehensive forms of sex education are shown to reduce sexual aggression and bullying, especially in the context of partner violence and dating. In countries with all income levels, sex education’s effectiveness has been proven to be effective.
Given the overlap between these issues and common approaches to prevention, the report highlights the need to improve in many areas.
It is also important to not place too much emphasis on stranger danger, as they are not the only or predominant perpetrators of online violence against children.
It calls for greater attention to acquaintance and peer perpetrators who are responsible in large part for the majority of offenses. Also, it asks for increased focus on healthy relationships skills since romance and intimacy-seeking can be major sources of vulnerability for online violence.
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WHO reports that internet access opens many opportunities for young people. These include the ability to foster learning, develop personal and professional skills and express creativity, as well as participating in society.
According to the UN agency, governments must find the right balance between providing opportunities for young people in the digital age and protecting them against harm.