Child sexual exploitation and abuse through the internet has increased by 15 percent in the last one year in Kenya even as efforts to contain and control safe internet use among children is heightened.

This was revealed by stakeholders in Kilifi town during the 10th awareness campaign of online child protection.

Mrs Alice Anokur, who is the Country Director of ChildFund Kenya, said that another 57 percent increase in child sexual exploitation and abuse in East and Central Africa and there was need to strengthen legislations that will ensure safe internet use by children.

“We have noted that 61 percent of children aged between 12 and 17 years don’t know where to report when they get sexually exploited on the internet and some of them don’t even know that it is a crime,” she said.

She added that her organization was supporting the government in the formation of infrastructure for online child safety by aiding the government in development of manuals for online child education and also standard operating procedure.

Mr Wanjala Blasio who is the project coordinator for USAID Tujitegemee program in Kilifi County challenged the government through parliament to come up with legislation that will seal loopholes and ensure perpetrators of child sexual exploitation through the internet are punished by law.

“Up to now, the legislation on online child safety lags behind the internet development and I call on parliament to enact legislation that will provide safety for children because the children must use the internet,” he said.

Mrs Margaret Ngotho who is the project Manager at LifeSkills Promoters said that the internet could not be wished away but there was a need for coming up with the right legislation and policies to guide internet use among children.

“We are working with the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) to develop laws and legislations since we have a few laws that are not firm. We are using the school avenues to create awareness so that even as they engage themselves in the internet, they should be aware that online predators exist and how they can be safe,” she said.

Mrs Martha Sunda who is the Executive Director of ChildFund Kenya said that poverty was a major hindrance in the fight against online child sexual exploitation and many of them use the internet to make money.

“Some children are blackmailed to do more and more sexual content and share them to get money and we must address poverty if we have to keep our children safe,” she said.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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