A report on 'Child Online Protection in India' released by UNICEF provided a comprehensive overview of the current risks and threats faced by children while using the Internet and social media and how they can be protected.
In India, the surge in mobile and Internet use has brought 400 million people online. According to a survey conducted by Internet and Mobile Association of India, schoolgoing children account for seven percent of internet users in the country.
‘Children can be protected from online abuse by improving laws and policies, reporting and removing offensive materials, probing and prosecuting offenders and spreading digital literacy.’
The report by UNICEF India provided various forms of cybercrimes against children including sex-texting, online grooming, production and distribution of child harmful material, and cyber bullying. The report provides various recommendations to address the issue of underreporting of such cases.
Ajay Kumar, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, said, "The Ministry is taking steps to block sites depicting child abuse. However, given the nature of the menace, this requires a collective effort from all stakeholders, including service providers, content providers, civil society and regulatory authorities."
Offline forms of crime and violence against children are ending new forms of expression in the online world and their effects on children are amplified, according to the report.
Parents, professionals and policymakers should be empowered to play an active role in preventing and protecting children from a child online abuse and exploitation.
Technical solutions and a high degree of preparedness, collaboration and coordination among stakeholders make a safe online ecosystem for children.
"This report is an important step in the direction of child online protection and safety and will go a long way in improving child online protection measures in our country," said Stuti Kacke, Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
"No single agency or government institution can ensure the safety of children from online threats and violence," said Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative.
"This calls for all relevant government institutions, the private sector, international organizations, media, academia and civil society to work together to build structures, mechanisms, and capacities to prevent and respond to the specific threats and risks posed to children," he added.