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As such, they too pose serious threats and risks especially for vulnerable populations such as children; and there’s an overhaul and exigent need to ensure that the rightful safety measures and policies are well-put into place to protect young people and children around the world.

Here in Liberia, as in other countries globally, increasing numbers of children tend to gain access to the internet on a daily basis. While it is true that the development of the internet is an invaluable resource and has opened up unprecedented opportunities in the larger world, and truly has made the internet economy to flourish; however, it is now becoming a common mundane as to where children encounter an ample amount of problems within their day-to-day activities.

Like everyone else, children engage online as recipients, participants or actors. They too become more susceptible to a variety of appropriate and inappropriate content, which can range from commercial information (unsolicited adverts, spam, etc.) to more aggressive content (bullying, harassment, hate speech, and other violent content). As recipients, participants or actors, they are also more often open to sexually explicit content which may cause distorted and unhealthy values in young people and their personalities and relationships.
In other words, potential value-laden content such as prejudicial/deleterious and misleading information which many young netizens may not be discerning enough to decipher, and other peril materials and unacceptable activities such as grooming, insomnia, among others definitely endanger children in cyberspace. Unfortunately, like the offline violations, many children are unaware of these risks in Liberia, as there are many of them still hugely illiterate here within the country’s population.
Liberia is one of the first countries to adopt comprehensive legislation for children that incorporates the UNCRC and the African Charter. On the 4th of February AD 2012, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf officially and overtly launched the Children’s Law of Liberia to protect the children and their rights to copiously participate meaningfully within the development process. Said laws reflects on the government’s commitment to support the progressive realization of all rights for all children after a lengthy period of time of advocacy coming from prominent individuals and institutions.
Among these laws include: the right to health, education; freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation, and their right to partake in the hoisting process of our country’s transformation. These respective laws only seek to protect children offline; but not online. As such, there are no known policies or institutional frameworks, or even organizational support that corroborates Child Online Protection (COP) here in Liberia – except for the recently established Protect the Children (PROTEL) which is now working hard toward achieving this unfettered and tremendous goal.
Whether developed locally or adapted from the ITU Guidelines or other best practices, in fact, there is no guideline or set-rules on how issues of online abuses or violations against children and young people are to be addressed. So far, reported cases of online abuses against children and young people have been interpreted or isolated cases of child abuse or young people’s non-adherence to the rules, or some police officers who have ignorantly imposed the wrong jurisdiction or crime on others unknowingly for their own personal gains or selfish aim, even though Liberia is one of the first countries to have signed and has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and given meaning to the convention by enacting the Children Act in 1998, whereby neither the Act nor the recently introduced Liberia’s Children Law has online safety/protection considerations.
At a recent Africa Regional Conference on Child Online Protection (COP), said proposals and recommendations were brought forth and presented as key strategies to safeguard and enhance the lives of children to be protected online. The four point strategies make the following provisions:
1. Development of a sound research base on COP issues and establishment of a stakeholder working group to serve as the leading expert group that advises government on formalization and implementation of a national COP plan.
2. Capacity building and awareness creation among key stakeholders.
3. The developments of legal measures to review the existing child protection act to include COP.
4. Establishment of an online COP portal with child online form for reporting COP incidents, as well as a call center with Special COP support numbers for the public to call for assistance.
When the above-mentioned information has been brought to the spot light and implemented, the proposed dealings will help improve the safety of the country’s young netizens against abuse, exploitation, as well as other ills within society and that manner. The cooperation of all relevant stakeholders will make the implementation less cumbersome and faster. Stakeholders, especially civil society, will have to conscientiously monitor closely the execution of the roadmap to guarantee that its objective is achieved. Periodic review and update of the strategies will also be appropriate as it tackles the already persistent widespread of child violence and abuse against children and young people in Liberia.

About The Author: Thomas William Fomba is a young Liberian right advocate and a blogger who demands social justice when the need arises. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 231-770-139-520 and on blog This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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