On Safer Internet Day (7th February), a 3-year programme whose desired change is to have all children protected from Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE) in a safe family and community environment was officially launched in Kenya.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands in partnership with Childline Kenya, and in collaboration with the Directorate of Children Services, officially launched a 3-year programme dubbed ‘Safety for Children and their Rights OnLine (SCROL) on 7 February 2023 in Mnarani Club, Kilifi, Kenya. 76 representatives from the Government, private sector, law enforcement and civil society organisations graced the occasion. The launch event, with the theme ‘Together for a Safe Internet’ took place from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm after the Safer Internet Day Celebrations in Karisa Maitha Grounds, where stakeholders called upon the public to join hands in helping to protect children from the dark side of the internet. They depicted the many positives and opportunities that the internet presents and recommended that restricting children from the internet is not an option. Emphasis was given on the critical role of caregivers to guide and monitor children's activity online as a sustainable prevention measure.The main objective of the launch was to sensitise key stakeholders on the SCROL programme scope, mandate and desired results with key advocacy asks to be fulfilled during the implementation period. The event commenced with opening remarks and a presentation on Terre des Hommes Netherlands by Magdalene Wanza, Country Director for Kenya. She explained TdH NL’s mission, vision, core principles and values. She also shared insights on the 2023-2030 ListenUp Strategy highlighting key priorities in ending child exploitation. Thereafter, Caroline Parmet, SCROL Programme Officer, presented on the alarming OCSE situation in Kenya, with statistics from the disrupting harm report 2020, and how the SCROL programme aims to address the vice. She also shared the programme, scope, goals, objectives, and implementation strategies calling for key actors and stakeholders to actively take responsibility in curbing OCSE through the implementation of the national plan of action to tackle OCSE, adoption and operationalization of the KICD approved student and facilitator training manuals to conduct awareness sessions on OCSE in schools in Kenya, establishment of child friendly justice system to address OCSE as well as capacity strengthening of law enforcement agencies on OCSE. Different stakeholders gave their remarks including the Country Director, ChildFund Kenya who committed her support through the Safe CLIC project to work closely with SCROL to ensure the menace of OCSE is addressed in Kenya .
“The SCROL programme rightfully puts the child at the centre and not only empowers the child to participate in their own protection online but also strengthens the ecosystem around them to facilitate true safety for the child from online sexual exploitation. Everybody has a role to play to keep children safe,” said Martha Sunda, Executive Director, ChildLine Kenya.
The chief guest, Mr. Shem Nyakutu. Secretary for Children Services, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, State Department of Social Protection, in his keynote speech, highlighted the launch of the five-year National Plan of Action to tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (NPA OCSEA) that will allow for the identification, coordination and collaboration of multiple stakeholders to create a more harmonized complimentary, integrated and comprehensive approach.
“SCROL programme has come in at the right time to complement the efforts of the Directorate as they operationalize the NPA.” he said. “DCS will collaborate with Terre des Hommes Netherlands and Childline Kenya in planning, implementation, monitoring and sharing of knowledge from the SCROL programme, to better inform sustainable solutions to OCSE prevention in Kenya.”
As the launch progressed, participants were encouraged to commit on behalf of their constituents and peers to support the delivery of the SCROL programme and rally support towards creating safety online for children. The commitment was officiated by signing of a ‘I AM FOR SCROL’ board and cake cutting.
At the end of the event, the issues towards addressing OCSE were recognised by all stakeholders present and they made a commitment to work together to create a safe online environment for children by ensuring that children are able to report cases, parents are able to guide and monitor children’s activities online and hold duty bearers accountable, national and local governments are able to address the gaps in OCSE legislation, and law enforcement agencies are better equipped with appropriate forensic tools and resources to effectively investigate OCSE
The launch was a pivotal moment for Terre des Hommes Netherlands. It provided a unique platform for the organisation to establish and strengthen relationships with key stakeholders and also presented an opportunity for us to create awareness on SCROL and lay a strong foundation for successful implementation with the support from all the stakeholders.