As the world continues to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks and rolling out its vaccination programs, millions of children and youth are still at home and out of school. While at home, most youth spend their time online and this brings risks to their safety.
Various countries in Asia are experiencing this issue such as Thailand experiencing a 40% increase in Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE) cases. Even before the pandemic, 1 out of 5 children in the Philippines were vulnerable to online exploitation. Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ partner organisation in Cambodia, APLE reported 35 OCSE cases within the first 3 months of 2021, a surge compared to last year’s total cases of 65. Due to easing accessibility to the internet in Bangladesh, different forms of online child sexual abuse are rapidly growing. Being forced and groomed to perform sexual activities online leads to physical and mental health problems to children as they grow into adulthood.
As an organisation that focuses on stopping child exploitation, Terre des Hommes Netherlands works on to combat this increasingly growing problem. One of the organisation’s approaches is the formation of child clubs where children and youth are mobilised and educated on issues that may affect them such as OCSE, to help them inform and empower others in their communities.
With the support of our child clubs from all over the Asia region (India, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh), we are launching the “Cybersquad by Terre des Hommes” campaign. Led by the children and youth themselves, online tips and tricks on how to stay safe online will be shared weekly through videos, photos, and other creative ways on social media until World Internet Day on 29 October.