31st July, 2023: The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) and ChildFund India recently launched a campaign, #WebSafeAndWise to combat online sexual exploitation and abuse of children in Karnataka. The joint initiative was officially launched at Vikasa Soudha, Bengaluru. The event witnessed the presence of Shri. Madhu Bangarappa, Hon’ble Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Government of Karnataka, and Smt. Laxmi R. Hebbalkar, Hon’ble Minister of Women and Child Development, Disabled and Senior-Citizens Empowerment, Shri. K. Naganna Gowda, Hon’ble Chairperson, KSCPCR, Government of Karnataka, along with other top state officials.
The #WebSafeAndWise campaign aims to create a safer online environment for children and protect them from the escalating risks posed by the increasing use of digital technology and internet connectivity. There has been a significant surge in crimes against children in the online space, making it imperative to take urgent action for the welfare and protection of the young generation. The initiative will begin with a comprehensive study over the next three months to assess the situation and design an effective program along with creating awareness amongst children, parents and school teachers.
Talking about the partnership, Shri. Madhu Bangarappa Hon’ble Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Government of Karnataka, said, “The Karnataka government extends its full support to the campaign and the study on prevention of OSEAC. There are over 1.20 crore children that are studying from 1st standard to 12th standard, covering 2 crore parents in the state. Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children is a severe crime against our children that requires urgent attention and strong measures. This project will provide security for children, which is of utmost concern. The efforts of KSCPCR, Women and Child Development Ministry and ChildFund India for this convergence project are to be highly appreciated and I assure to take up at the school and policy level.”
Shri. Rajesh Ranjan Singh, Board Member of ChildFund India said, “We firmly believe that by joining forces, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and ChildFund India have taken a giant stride towards securing the innocence and well-being of our children in the digital age. Through our combined efforts, we are committed to developing comprehensive programs that not only prevent the exploitation and abuse of children online but also create a safer virtual landscape for their exploration and growth. Together, we shall shield their innocence, empower their potential, and pave the way for a brighter, safer future for every child in Karnataka.”
Following the launch, a round table discussion took place, in which various government stakeholders participated. The discussion focused on understanding the challenges posed by OSEAC and exploring the crucial roles stakeholders can play in combating the issue effectively and urgently. Key discussion points from stakeholders included integrating OSEAC with training programs for the police department, developing clear guidelines for prevention across various departments, and sensitizing personnel in residential schools and hostels.
The joint initiative #WebSafeAndWise sets a promising precedent in the fight against online sexual exploitation and abuse of children in Karnataka. Through collective efforts and continued support from all stakeholders, the partnership aims to ensure a safer and more secure future for the children of the state.