On Safer Internet Day, a campaign promotes a safer, kinder cyber space for children and adolescents
CAIRO, 11 February 2020 – Thirty years have passed since the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) came to life highly positioning the rights and protection of children among global commitments. Thirty years have also passed since the existence of the world wide web- the internet that has massively influenced humanity and the lives of both adults and children, presenting new opportunities but also new sets of recent challenges that were not known to the children of the pre-Internet age. Today, Egypt joins the world in marking the Safer Internet Day, recognizing that more action is needed to protect children from new threats they may face in the online world, which include cyberbullying, exposure to harmful content, and abuse.
“The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) is committed to continue raising awareness about ending violence against children, including that which may occur in familiar settings such as homes and schools. Today, together with partners, we launch the ‘Safer Internet’ campaign to stress on the importance of protecting children and adolescents also in the cyber space, where exposure to violence is exasperated by the nature of online content being accessible indefinitely as well as by lack of both and adult and child awareness about internet risks,” stated Dr. Azza Al Ashmawy, Secretary General of NCCM.
According to Egypt Census 2017, 34% of children in urban areas and 14% of children in rural areas are regular users of the internet, and that is expected to grow. Social media has filled up the lives of so many young internet users, heightening cyber bullying and the profound harm it causes as it quickly reaches a wide audience, virtually ‘following’ its victims online in their schools and homes and communities for life.
In this context, H.E. Dr. Tarek Shawky, Minister of Education and Technical Education (MOETE) stated: “The MOETE spares no effort towards the holistic development of adolescents, especially at the early stages when children’s characters are being development and their social behavior formed. The Ministry is extremely mindful of all negative social behavior such as sexual harassment and bullying, and ensures penalizing those proven to commit such acts, noting that there are social workers in schools who are qualified to deal with these cases.” Dr. Shawky added “With the expansion of digital access, and the increasing presence of children and adolescents online, they are becoming more prone to this kind of negative behavior.”
Children exposed to cyberbullying are more likely to use negative coping mechanisms and more likely to experience poor learning and low self-esteem than other children.
“The EU has been for the past few years supporting campaigning efforts to protect children from violence, and with the ever-growing existence of the internet in the lives of adults and children, addressing online violence becomes as important as ever,” stated Ambassador Ivan Surkoš, Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt, and added, “We need to ensure a positive digital experience for our children. Children must be taught how to keep themselves informed, engaged and safe online.”
The campaign uses the hashtags #SaferInternet and #ImAgainstBullying, combining two issues that concern young people today in Egypt and the world.
“The Internet offers young people great benefits, but it must not put them through the hardships of facing hurtful content or having their privacy and personal data exploited, due to lack of awareness about their digital rights,” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Egypt. “In this campaign UNICEF works with national partners and with the support of the European Union to call for families, schools and, critically, the private sector to prioritize controlling online risks and employing preventive measures to protect children in the cyber space," he added.
The Safer Internet Campaign launches today on the digital platforms of NCCM, MOETE, UNICEF and the EU, providing informative content for two weeks to adolescents and caregivers about refusing cyberbullying and promoting online protection.
For more information:
The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM):
Coordinator of the Social Media Unit: Iman Muhammed Ali, email@example.com
The Ministry of Education and Technical Education (MOETE)
Advisor to the Minister for Marketing and Communication: Yousra Allam,
Press Officer, Spokesperson: Ayman Elsherbiny, Ayman.ELSHERBINY@eeas.europa.eu
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/egypt/.