By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Abuja, Oct. 22, 2020 The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says it has intensified its efforts to combat child sexual exploitation, especially in view of the longer time children spend online due to COVID-19 restrictions
Addressing a webinar on “Tackling Cyber Crimes Amongst Youths in Nigeria” organised by Devcomradar Magazine, Oliver Stolpe, UNODC Country Representative, Nigeria stressed the urgent need to step up prevention and law enforcement efforts to counter this trend.
A statement issued by Sylvester Atere, National Project Officer, Outreach and Communications, UNODC, quoted Stolpe as identifying specific measures which government must consider.
The UNODC representative said that in September, the Interpol published its report on child sexual exploitation and abuse in the wake of COVID-19 raising alarm about the dramatic increase of online sexual offence committed against children.
He said that school closures and other COVID-19 related restrictions have massively increased the amount of time that children spend online for educational, entertainment and social purposes.
“This has also increased dramatically the vulnerability of children to fall victim to sexual exploitation by predators operating online,” he said, quoting the INTERPOL report.
Speaking further he outlines certain measures to be taken by government to include:
“The creation of prevention and awareness campaigns for potential victims and their guardians relating to the risk of Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) online.
“Governments should ensure that capacities to investigate CSEA offences are maintained at least at pre-COVID-19 levels.
“Adjusting workflows to avoid disruption of investigative work due to working from home arrangements; and providing the necessary soft and hardware solutions to investigators who are conducting their work from home.
According to the statement, in a bid to assist countries in these efforts, UNODC, through its Education for Justice Initiative, has developed a host of didactical materials for children, parents and teachers, including children books, lesson plans, educational videos all aimed to educate children on how to use the internet safely.
He said that the UNODC Global Cybercrime Programme in Dakar was also rolling out awareness videos for kids with new episode each week.
The videos he said are aimed at addressing different aspect of online safety.
“The short, animated videos illustrate the dangers of sexting, speaking to strangers online, cyberbullying, and opting-in to purchase ‘gifts’.
“For maximum impact, the videos have been released in French, English, and Portuguese, on the UNODC twitter accounts (@UNODC_WCAfrica and @UNODC_Nigeria) as well as platforms in Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Ghana (in collaboration with UNICEF), Benin, Senegal, Mali, and Nigeria,” he said.