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African Child’s Wellbeing In The Digital World

Jun 16, 2023 | News | 0 comments

Photo by Victor Nnakwe on Unsplash

This article was written by Binuel Phale to commemorate International day of the African child. He is a NOREC Exchange Participant (2023) based at Youth Alive! Kenya. He is a social worker and a human rights advocate and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social work from the University of Malawi.

As our beautiful continent celebrates the African child on this day, 16th June under the theme: “The rights of the child in the digital environment”, it is also a great time as a nation to reflect and act upon the different challenges faced by children in this digital era and how these challenges impact on their well-being and development. Africa is home to a significant portion of the global child population, but who is a child? Some may ask. A child is any person below the age of 18 as stipulated in article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC). 

Kenya is among the states that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and has undertaken steps to pursue policies aimed at progressive realization of children’s rights. Despite global and National recognition of children’s rights, Kenya still faces a challenge of violence against children. Disrupting Harm in Kenya, a joint research project conducted by End Child Prostitution and Trafficking network, INTERPOL and UNICEF found that 67% of children aged 12 to 17 in Kenya are internet users and are vulnerable to different forms of online abuse and exploitation. Some notable examples of these online abuse and exploitation that children are subjected to include; grooming, harassment and child pornography. Predators are now taking advantage of different social media platforms to target children, manipulate them and coerce them into engaging in inappropriate activities. 

Children in this country are also major victims of cyber bullying as many people are using digital platforms to harass and humiliate children leading to emotional distress which in turn has negative effects on the children’s education and health. It is disheartening to note that despite the existence of various legal provisions and policies aimed at protecting children, there is still an increase in cases of child rights violations in Kenya and other African countries. it is possible to have a world where children freely express themselves online without being subjected to any kind of harm.

As Herbert Clark Hoover said, “Children are our most valuable resource” therefore this day should serve as a reminder of the different challenges faced by children not only in Kenya but in Africa as a whole. This day should also remind us of the need to highlight resilience, potential and the need for concerted efforts to ensure their well-being and development by raising awareness, promoting their rights and celebrating their achievements. There is a need for coordinated efforts by the Kenyan government and Non Governmental Organizations to make sure children’s rights are protected in this digital world by strengthening and diversifying mechanisms for children to disclose concerns, report incidents and seek help and advice in cases where they experience any form of online exploitation and abuse.

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