|© UNICEF video|
|UNICEF Project Officer Amanda Melville notes that child exploitation on the Internet poses new challenges for communities and governments.|
By Susan Knorrenborg
NEW YORK, USA, 6 February 2007 – The Internet provides children with new ways to express themselves, learn and build friendships – but it also poses risks.
Research suggests that as many as one in five children who use computer chat rooms has been approached over the Internet by paedophiles. The problem will likely increase as a growing number of children get access to the Internet worldwide.
To raise awareness of the issue, February 6 has been declared Net Safety Day. This is the fourth year the day has been observed. Its goal is to teach children, their parents and teachers how young people can protect themselves against abuse – as well as inform caretakers about how to help children who are already being targeted by potential abusers.
As part of the day, according to the BBC, 20 of Europe's leading mobile operators have signed an agreement offering greater protection for young people using mobile phones.
Education and legislation
UNICEF also participates in the effort to make the Internet a safer place for children.
“Internet abuse is such a new area, and it poses challenges that communities and governments are often not prepared to deal with,” says UNICEF Psychosocial Support Project Officer Amanda Melville.
According to Ms. Melville, many of the principles already used for protecting children in other contexts – such as parental education and advocating for protective legislation – can be adjusted to protect children against the abuses perpetrated by adults online.