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22,000 Images, Videos Of Child Sexual Abuse Accessed – Report

At least 22,000 images and videos of child sexual abuse were accessed, shared or produced in Ghana in 2022, a report by the United Na­tion’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and National Center for Missing and Reported Children, has stated.

Also, 13,000 of similar materials were disseminated in 2020, a jump from 750 recorded cases in 2016, the report said.

To curb the growing trend, the Cyber Security Authority (CSA) is to establish a complaint mech­anism and a helpline dedicated to reporting online child abuse and counselling victims of online abuse.

Additionally, the Authority will conduct an independent assess­ment and audit of internet service provider, to assess how the service provider reports and deals with issues concerning child online protection.

Also, the CSA will deploy a technology to independently monitor compliance with all regulations governing digital service provision and social media platforms, whose services are accessible to Ghanaian citizens, particularly children.

These are part of recom­mendations in a draft legislative instrument developed for the implementation of the Cyber Security Act 2020 (Act 1038), which provides the legal basis for cybersecurity development and protection of children from online sexual exploitation.

At a stakeholders meeting in Accra yesterday, Director-General of CSA, Dr Albert Antwi-Boa­siako said lack of structured, continuous, and measurable e-lit­eracy education programmes and policies, had exposed vulnerable children to harmful content.

He noted that the approach could be developed through a collaboration with civil society groups who play critical roles in the protection of children online, by way of awareness creation, supporting victims and survivors and building tools to identify and track illegal and abusive materials.

The Chief Child Protection Officer, UNICEF, Lucia Soleti said although Ghana’s situation was alarming, it was leading the way globally and in Africa, specifi­cally to advance safety of children online.

She said in addition to the Cyber Security Act, the National Child Online Protection frame­work, which had been developed and the child protection digital forensic laboratory within the Ghana Police Service were imper­ative in dealing with the menace.

Ms Soleti noted that at least 7,000 social service workers have been trained on case management standard operating procedures and referral pathways through the Integrated Social Service.

She explained it was to allow for effective and efficient manage­ment and referrals of child sexual abuse violations to the appropriate institutions.

Despite the gains, Ms Soleti called for the enhancement of reporting and prosecution of child abuse cases, and that more was re­quired to reach every single child, parent and caregiver in Ghana to better understand and prevent risks of children online.

Source: Ghanaian Times

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