As a practitioner working with children, your ability to make a change in children’s safety and ensure healthy online practices is significant. You can join the fight!
The ways you can help prevent OCSE are numerous and should be implemented in both your personal and working environment. Following you will find several practical ways in which you can prevent online child sexual exploitation from happening.
Report cases of OCSE and ensure children receive adequate support
No case of OCSE should be ignored. If you are exposed to OCSE you should report it at www.internethotlinecambodia.org and make sure the child receives the help they need.
Make sure a child will never be blamed or shamed if they have become victim of OCSE, and take all cases seriously. Know where children can receive professional help near you and encourage children to receive help when necessary. Both reporting and assuring children receive help after abuse help in the fight against OCSE.
Check your workplace for practices that ensure children’s online safety.
This includes making sure all ICT devices are applied with child protection measures such as blocking content which is inappropriate for children’s use. Check if your workplace has child protection policies and that workers know what to do if they encounter cases of OCSE, advocate for trainings and workshops for staff regarding the safeguarding of children online, etc.
Empower children to make the right decisions online
Stopping children from using the internet is not an effective or realistic approach to preventing OCSE. Instead, they should receive the tools to think critically, engage in smart online decisions, and feel comfortable to come to adults whenever they feel they are in some kind of online threat.
Involve children in developing preventative practices
It is important to acknowledge children’s place in taking ownership over their lives and making the right online choices. Create safe spaces for discussions with children and involve them in both decision making and sharing ideas regarding safe online practices and how to share knowledge with others.
Stay involved in children’s lives and take notice to changes in behaviour
Ask children questions which show you are interested in what is happening with them without being nosy or interfering with their privacy. This will help you notice if there are worrisome changes in their behaviour and if they are currently holding practices which can put them at risk. Healthy communication with children will also make it easier for a child to approach you if something has happened to them.
Encourage open discussion on healthy relationships and on consent.
Youth need adult’s guidance for understanding what is right or wrong in relationships and knowing that they can ask questions freely without judgement. It is important to note that discussions should not only be in the form of protective measures for children rather preventative by encouraging youth not to participate in any activity which may put another person in harm.
For instance – while it is important to encourage a child not to send naked pictures of themselves to others online, it is even more important to emphasize why it is wrong to ask and request a naked photo from another child, and that if they are participating in such behavior, they are exposing others to serious danger online.
Keep updated with the new technological advances
Children are often more knowledgeable than adults and up to date regarding the constant technological changes, and new applications that rise. Trying to keep up to date with the different technological changes will help you stay in control of what a child is exposed to.
Help strengthen families and communities to protect children
Parents and communities are often more technologically illiterate and will have larger gaps regarding their understanding on the online risks to children. Help strengthen them towards understanding children’s online environment and their ability to offer protection.
Advocate for changes in the legal system
This includes advocating for improving law enforcements’ capacity to tackle OCSE and identify victims, as well as advocating for changes in legal frameworks to criminalize all conducts related to CSAM.
Spread the knowledge
Discussions on OCSE should not be kept private or indoors. Awareness on online child sexual exploitation and how to prevent it will only be raised if you stay vocal about it.
After completing this course, you have received the tools necessary to keep children safe online. Share the information you have learned and encourage others to expand their knowledge on safeguarding children from OCSE. Inform peer-members, co-workers, friends, family and children under your care. Hold awareness-raising events to help the public learn about online risks for children and how to stay safe from harm. Encourage others to fulfil their responsibility towards safeguarding the children in our society.