Children Cyber Safety campaign launched in Sharjah

Afkar Abdullah/Sharjah
Filed on June 7, 2016 | Last updated on June 7, 2016 at 07.40 am
Children Cyber Safety campaign launched in Sharjah

The initiative has been launched in coordination with ICDL Arabia

Sharjah supreme family council launched on Sunday Child Cyber Safety Campaign to raise awareness among Sharjah-based parents and children on the safe, effective and responsible use of the Internet.

The initiative has been launched in coordination with ICDL Arabia, the regional arm of the international body responsible for teaching computing skills, IT security and cyber-safety. .

During the launch ceremony, Her Highness Shaikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Shaikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, hailed the efforts already made by the Child Safety Campaign and its partners from government organizations and schools, across the Emirate of Sharjah.

She added that the aim of the initiative is to protect children and young people from any abuse or harassment while online. "The importance of awareness on the different forms of abuse and how parents can protect children from cyber-threats, online harassment and bullying." She stressed

Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Head of the  Organising Committee for the Child Safety Campaign,Cyber-safety for children is officially classified as one of the top priorities by governments in the GCC region; however, according to a study conducted by ICDL Arabia, only 42 per cent of children are willing to inform their parents about cyber-threats or bullying they encounter online. This means that parents and educators must take proactive measures to learn about best practices and to nurture the skills that can guide children to use their digital devices in a responsible manner.

"Trust between children and parents must be established, so that children report any cyber-bullying or online harassment to their parents - without any misguided fear that they are the ones at fault," said Al Yafei.

She added that a series of cyber-safety awareness workshops will be conducted in collaboration with the Child Safety Campaign's partners. These partners have been specifically chosen for their organisations' proven track record and dedication to the welfare of children and young adults.

The workshops will target the 7-12 and 13-18 age groups, as well as parents, teachers and employees. Each session will focus on the proper and improper forms and practices of Internet usage and will track the signs of harassment and threats, while also detailing how potential victims can react and report such instances. According to the organisers, the educational workshops aim to create a generation that is better informed of the dangers online while also being able to live, work and play safely.

As part of the new campaign initiative, informative handbooks will be distributed to participating organisations and educational facilities and will also be promoted on social media. The handbook contains a section called "Tips on Cyber-Safety" - a guide that documents the best practices for safe use of the Internet.

Jamil Ezzo, Director-General of ICDL Arabia.noted that the MOU provides an added value to the Child Safety Campaign and would dramatically broaden the scope of its effectiveness - by reaching out into every household, in Sharjah. Ezzo also suggested that cyber-safety awareness is the best form of defence as it will enable those who learn the skills to pass on the knowledge to other family members or school friends.

Training courses on online security will be conducted for teachers and parents, with summer camps being organised to teach children and young adults the necessary knowledge and skills. The Child Safety Campaign and ICDL Arabia will also provide the necessary facilities and support to conduct training and awareness workshops - free of charge - to ensure as many people as possible are reached. In addition, ICDL Arabia will provide experts and consultants to supervise these workshops and develop the skills of training professionals at each of the campaign's approved venues.

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