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Meet Ritu, our Youth Advocate!

August 12th, 2023

This International Youth Day, we introduce you to Ritu who is our youth advocate. An extremely artistic girl, Ritu devotes her time to finding creative solutions to stopping online child exploitation as part of our Safety For Children and their Rights OnLine (SCROL) project. Let us get to know her more.

Ritu youth advocate

Q and A with Ritu

Why did you decide to become a youth advocate?                                                                           

I decided to be a youth advocate in order to speak up for young people and encourage and empower them. Additionally, I believe we should work for children and youth to ensure that their voice is heard. Beyond that, I wanted to hone my leadership abilities and work as a change agent to bring positive change in society.

What is your role in the SCROL project?                                                                           

My role in the SCROL project As a youth advocate is to raise awareness about Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) among adolescents and young people.

What has been your most memorable moment as a youth advocate?                                           

I feel fortunate to be among the children and young people through SCROL. My journey in SCROL so far has been one of the best experiences because I have been learning new things every day while interacting with the SCROL team and children. 

What is your proudest achievement as part of your work with SCROL?                                     

My proudest achievement is the growth in my leadership skills. Similarly, being able to be the voice of hundreds of youth in sharing and sensitising about OSEC makes me feel proud.

What are the major challenges you face as part of your advocacy?

Sometimes, there is a lack of positive response from schools. As we reach out to the community, it is difficult to get their attention and sometimes they don't take us seriously. We need more visual content to sensitise people on OSEC. 

What is the crucial problem you want to solve?                                                                             

Online exploitation is a critical issue I want to address. Recently, adolescents and children have been intentionally and secretly exploited. So I want them to access the availability of services to redress their cases. I want children to feel free to talk about the issues they are suffering from.

What is your vision for a world free from online exploitation?                                                       

A multifaceted strategy incorporating technology, education, regulation, and individual responsibility is needed to create a safer and more secure digital world. We need to create and implement effective cybersecurity protocols for people, organizations, and governments.  I want to encourage people to become digitally literate early on by educating them on how to spot and handle online dangers. Topics should be covered in this instruction. I also want to provide assistance to people who have fallen victim to online exploitation. This can include services to aid in their emotional and psychological recovery as well as therapy, legal support, and counselling.

How can the government and law support youth advocates?                                                   

They can provide sessions on OSEC at the community level. They should provide a budget for the facilitation of OSEC sessions in every community. They also need to motivate the youth to advocate. 

What is your message to the youth?                                                                                                   

Our small step for society is for ourselves. So let's fight peacefully and let's be a true warrior and educate the world about OSEC.

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