Rwanda on Friday marked the World Children’s Day with a call to strengthen the protection of children from dangers posed by online abuse and cyberbullying.
“COVID-19 pandemic has pushed children to turn to digital solutions more than ever to support their learning and socialization, which comes with risks such as online sexual abuse and cyberbullying,” said Jeannette Bayisenge, Rwandan minister of gender and family promotion, at the celebrations to mark World Children’s Day in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
“We need to toughen measures as the government, civil society, development partners, parents, guardians and teachers to ensure that our children are protected from online abuse as they spend more time online than usual,” said Bayisenge.
She said, parents and guardians have a big role to play in protecting children from online abuse, and it is very important for them to engage and communicate with children about online safety issues to enable them to develop their critical thinking to make appropriate choices.
In 2019, Rwanda rolled out an online protection policy for children in response to risks of minors exposed to unsuitable contents on Internet and that needs full implementation by the relevant authorities.
“We worry about the risk of exploitation by strangers and criminals or cyber abuse and bullying from peers. The government of Rwanda and UN family is doing what we can to help protect you,” United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative to Rwanda Julianna Lindsey told the event.
The day coincided with the 14th National Children’s Summit, a consultative forum which brought together children’s delegates from across the country to exchange views and ideas on the issues at hand.