REPORT OF CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE ONLINE PROTECTION FORUM ORGANISED BY THE AFRICAN INFORMATION SECURITY ASSOCIATION (AISA) TO MARK THE WORLD TELECOMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SOCIETY DAY (WTISD 2009) ON TUESDAY, 19TH MAY, 2009 AT THE AISA SECRETARIAT, IKEJA, LAGOS, NIGERIA
Theme: Protecting Children and Young People Online
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the organ of the United Nations responsible for information and communication technology issues, sets aside the 17th of May of every year to mark the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) with focus on a very topical theme that addresses current and relevant issues that relate to the application of ICT for development and growth worldwide. The theme of this year’s WTISD was “Protecting Children in Cyberspace”.
While children and young people need to use the internet for growth and development, the same ICT driven environment can be a source of concern and abuse. Already, there is widespread global concern about the lack of regulation of the content of the internet. Stakeholders including governments, parents, educators, counsellors, psychologists, ICT professionals and NGOs are worried about the ever growing internet addiction among children and young persons as well as what they are exposed to.
To this end, the African Information Security Association (AISA) organised the Protecting Children and Young People Online Forum on May 19, 2009 which focused on the theme of the WTISD 2009 with a view to promoting the adoption of policies and strategies that will protect children in cyberspace and promote their safe access to online resources. To accomplish this, AISA invited several sister NGOs, industry operators, educators and schools to participate in the forum.
Definition of Key Terms
It is pertinent that we briefly look at the key terms that form the fulcrum of the theme of this year’s WTISD.
Internet in Perspective
The Internet is a global network: it doesn't obey traditional boundaries. It is an agent of globalisation: the world is alarmingly becoming a globalised village. Globalisation is technology-driven. The Internet, as a media, is a powerful agent of socialisation through which people learn new habits and new culture. As is customary of new technology, the Internet comes with new opportunities and threats, new promises and perils. The content of the Internet is largely unregulated: there is no mandatory or statutory regulation that exists across the Internet to regulate the content of websites.
Who is a Child or Young Person?
Both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child define a child as a human being under the age of eighteen years. In Nigeria, the Child Right's Act 2003 defines a child as a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years. On the other hand, the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) defines a child as a person under the age of fourteen years and a young person as a person who has attained the age of fourteen years and is under the age of seventeen years (or eighteen years in some states).
The mental and intellectual capacity of children and young people cannot be equated with that of adults. And since children are the future of any nation, the protection of children and young people becomes both a national priority and a major social responsibility.
WTISD 2009 Forum: Reporting the Event
The programme was anchored by two young persons, Miss Iwere Ejitene of the Federal Government Girls’ College (FGGC), Sagamu, Ogun state and Master Ebuka Anumba of the Command Day Secondary School (CDSS), Ikeja.
Under the guidance of these impressive comperes the event took off with an opening prayer by a student of the Command Day Secondary School. This was followed with an introduction of the participating schools.
The Convener of the forum, Mr. Jide Awe, Founder/CEO of Jidaw Systems Limited welcomed all the participants to the event on behalf of AISA. Jidaw Systems Limited serves as the AISA secretariat. Mr. Tajudeen Alabede of the Digital Youth Initiative was also nominated as the Rapporteur for the event
Mr. Awe enlightened the gathering on the significance of the annual World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) and the role of AISA in promoting information security development in Africa which it does through events, web content, and campaigns against cybercrime. The NGO, he said, focuses on the promotion of awareness, continuous professional development, policies and linkages/networks.
While emphasising the great potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to transform lives and the attendant promotion of digital inclusion, he warned of the inherent threat that technology poses if used wrongly. While reeling out some disturbing statistics about the dangers which children and young people are exposed to as a result of the abuse of the Internet, he warned everybody to stop playing dumb! He urged all stakeholders to stop pretending about the ever evident online dangers that confront us all and do something towards stemming the ugly trend.
Several presentations were made by some of the invited schools and NGOs.
All together, four schools (Federal Government Girls’ College (FGGC), Sagamu, Ogun State; Command Day Secondary School (CDSS), Ikeja; Nigerian Air Force Secondary School (NAFSS), Ikeja and Grace High School (GHS), Lagos) and two NGOs (Schools Computer Club Initiative and Digital Youth Initiative) made presentations on various aspects of the theme.
The NGO presentations were delivered by:
The student-presenters were as follows:
The presentations were thought provoking and in some cases included shocking revelations. The combination of solid, cold facts and deep insights into the complex nature of the troubling trends succeeded in sensitizing participants. It is no wonder that all presentations were well received by the clearly impressed audience. Different shades of opinion were represented. All presenters were however, unanimous in their observations which are noted below.
The convener and presenters, in the course of their presentations, made the following salient observations that they agreed are germane to the problem of the vulnerability of children and young people online:
Online Dangers: The online dangers to which children and young people are becoming increasingly vulnerable include the following: Adult Pornography, Internet Fraud; Online Violence; Child Pornography/Paedophilia, Hate Culture; Counter Culture, Gambling, Sexual Solicitation, Drugs, Online Games Addiction, Impersonation, etc.
Effects of Internet Abuse: The negative effects of Internet use on children's activities and development come in four broad areas:
Parental Apathy: It was observed that nowadays, parents are apathetical to what their children do. More over, most parents are not aware of the online risks which their children are exposed to. More worrisome is the low level of computer literacy among adults in Nigeria.
Institutional Weakness: Though the Internet remains largely unregulated, the lack of adequate legislation on the Internet (cyber law), the poor policing of the Internet (cyber policing), the indifferent attitude of providers and the defective law enforcement to check cyber crimes have made the unsuspecting Nigerian child and young person vulnerable to online dangers. Besides, operations of cybercafes are largely unregulated in Nigeria. What’s more, most cyber criminals do not get punished.
Social Apathy: There is a poor level of awareness of the online risks which children and young people are exposed to. In addition, there is a poor coordination of efforts by the Nigerian civil society to champion the campaign to protect children and young people online.
The forum urged all stakeholders to give serious consideration to the following action points to help stem the tide of dangers that children and young people are exposed to online:
At the end of the presentations, questions were taken from students while gift items were given to the young persons who played major roles at the forum. These included the student-presenters and the masters of ceremonies who all received a variety of prizes presented by Mrs. Funmilola Omojola of Grace Schools, courtesy of AISA.
The African Children Cyber Safety Competition for children and young people was one of the concluding activities of the event. In order to encourage an information security culture, students were charged to research and get answers to several quiz questions which were relevant to the theme of the forum. Click this link for the List of Winners of the African Children Cyber Safety Competition
Goodwill messages were given by the representatives of two NGOs, to wit: Human Development Initiative (HDI) and Women Technology Empowerment Centre (WTEC).
The convener, Mr. Jide Awe, while giving the vote of thanks, appreciated the support of all the participants in making the event a success. He charged all to join hands in ensuring safe online experiences for our children and young people.
The event which was attended by about 100 students and 20 guests came to an end with a closing prayer by Miss Ola Makinde of the Federal Government Girls’ College (FGGC), Sagamu.
List of Participating Organisations / Representatives
Please give the gift of information – share this report with other interested parties
Comments / Feedback
AISA invites your comments and suggestions to issues raised in this document. Information security is for everyone. Please share your views and opinions. Contact AISA through the details below.
Jidaw Systems Limited, 12 Eric Moore Street,
Wemabod Estate, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
Tel: 234-1-8958064, 4808445 08052647395, 07025333756, 08035007778
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