On February 13, Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE Cambodia) and the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) in collaboration with the Cambodia National Council for Children (CNCC), Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS), Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPTC) and Cambodian Red Cross celebrated the Safer Internet Day 2023 with the support of national government and private companies, aiming to raise awareness of internet safety to relevant stakeholders, including children, adolescents, parents, teachers, educators, social workers, ISPs, law and policy makers, and to encourage their active involvement in making the internet better and safer for everyone, especially children.
The Safer Internet Day campaign was held under the high presidency of H.E Madam Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior and Permanent Vice President of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking under a theme: “Let’s talk about internet safety with our children.”, with the participation of 1,200 people, including senior government officials, representatives of the government ministries and sub-national branches from 25 municipality and provinces, law enforcement officers, school principals, teachers, representatives of the Cambodian Red Cross, United Nations representatives in Cambodia, staff of national and international NGOs, journalists, online content producers, telecommunications service operators, children and youth.
Mr. Samleang Seila, Executive Director of APLE, said “This year’s celebration of the Safer Internet Day has shown a significant increase in attention of all parties involved in protecting children from the dangers posed by digital technology. He further said children and young people should be encouraged to embrace digital technology, but they should also be educated about internet safety to ensure they are protected, empowered, and respected online. Through this campaign, he hopes that online safety conversations will begin to spread more widely in families, schools, communities and governments.
H.E Madam Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior and Permanent Vice President of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, said that at present, digital technology in Cambodia is constantly evolving and provides many benefits to the promotion and acceleration of economic and social growth. However, it is also being used by some people for illicit purposes, such as human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and fraud. She also reminded children to be aware of online risks.
The Royal Government of Cambodia officials present at the campaign expressed their strong support for the celebration of the Safer Internet Day and encouraged this campaign to be held every year and more widely in Cambodia.
The celebration of the Safer Internet Day also aims to emphasize that an effective response to online risks and dangers to children requires the full participation of all parties and to disrupt these harms, we need to start talking about the problem and educating our children about safety measures.
Ms. Chem Srey Oeun, Head of Corporate Affairs of SMART Axiata, who participated in the roundtable discussion during the campaign, said that as a leading telecommunications company in Cambodia, which always promotes digital life, SMART always pays attention to safety and well-being of the community and society in which the company is present. Digital technology has many social and economic benefits, while it can also be detrimental if we do not use it properly and correctly, especially among vulnerable people, including children. We are well aware of our role and are committed to working with the Royal Government of Cambodia and other relevant organizations to enhance digital security.
The involvement of technology companies in preventing and responding to online risks is significant, and industry plays an important role in making the Internet better and safer for users.
Ms. Tan Sodany, Director of the ICT Policy Department of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, said that the Ministry is stepping up cooperation with local and foreign technology companies, ensuring that technology products and services take child safety into account and provide a conducive environment to avoid online risks. Equally important is that all stakeholders should help children become a “good digital citizen” with the knowledge and ability to protect themselves.
It should be noted that Safer Internet Day was first held on February 6, 2004 by 14 countries (13 countries in Europe and Australia) through the coordination of the network of partner organizations of the school network in the European Union (EUN Partnership) on behalf of the European Commission. The campaign has expanded its reach in the EU and other countries and has received increasing support year after year. To date, the Day has become a major global landmark, with more than 200 countries and territories around the world celebrating each year.
Profound thanks to the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children (GPEVAC) through UNICEF Cambodia, PLAN International Cambodia, Terre des Hommes Netherlands, SMART Axiata, SOS Children’s Villages and A21 Cambodia for financially supporting this campaign.