The “AmaniDotCom” campaign has been launched, as part of the celebrations for the International Day of the Girl Child, to protect children from online violence.
The launch occurred under the auspices of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) in cooperation with UNICEF, and with funding from the European Union (EU).
The first phase of the campaign aims to raise awareness amongst children, parents, and caregivers, about the need to protect children and young people from new threats they may face in the online world. This includes their exposure to harmful content and abuse, in addition to providing means to report these crimes, which is the Child Helpline 16000.
Sahar El Sonbaty, Secretary General of NCCM said, “Today, together with partners, we launch the ‘AmaniDotCom’ campaign to address the protection of children and young people in cyber space.”
“Exposure to violence is a matter of great concern, given the nature of unlimited access to online content, in addition to the lack of awareness among adults and children about the dangers of the Internet,” El Sonbaty added, “It is our collective responsibility to keep children and young people safe online. We count on the contributions of all our partners and the online industry to enhance and avail the safety features and new tools to young people, families and caregivers to be able to use the internet safely.”
El Sonbaty added that Egypt has around 54.74 million internet users, with 42 million users on social platforms. Of these, 12 million users are between the ages of 13-21 years old.
She urged families and caregivers to follow up on children while they use the Internet, as this has become a necessity and responsibility in light of the tremendous expansion in the internet world, which has become limitless.
In addition, El Sonbaty noted that the helpline can be contacted to obtain advice for dealing with such situations facing children, and to report when they are exposed to any danger or exploitation via the Internet.
“The Council provides this free service over the helpline, or through a WhatsApp application on 01102121600, confirming the confidentiality of caller data and confirming receiving inquiries and complaints from children and adults alike,” she said.
Christian Berger, Ambassador of the EU to Egypt, said that the EU is proud to be part of the campaign, which is being launched as part of the strategic partnership between the EU and Egypt. It has been put in place to strengthen child protection, and support girls and boys who have been subjected to violence.
“The EU has been supporting successful awareness campaigns that promote efforts that help address violence against children, in particular the ‘Awladna Campaign’ with focus on bullying and positive parenting. I am proud that through these campaigns, many girls and boys have become more aware of their rights, and that they can express themselves and reach out for support,” Ambassador Berger said, “The ‘AmaniDotCom’ campaign is an important addition to our efforts to promote a safer internet environment for girls and boys, as we need to ensure a positive digital experience for children and youth, especially under the increasing pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in Egypt said, “With the COVID-19 preventative measures came a huge increase in screen time for children and young people. They are exposed to a wide array of devices while many of them are lacking the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to keep themselves safe online.”
Hopkins added that more and more children are at risk of cyberbullying and sexual exploitation. There is an urgent need to come together as government, international entities, civil society and business community along with families and caregivers to address these risks and to increase children’s access to safe and quality online content.
The first phase of the ‘AmaniDotcom’ campaign will be launched on the digital platforms of NCCM, UNICEF and the EU, providing informative content to children and caregivers promoting online protection. The campaign uses the hashtag #AmaniDotCom promoting tips to help children, youth and families have safe online surfing. More interventions will follow including digital learning camps to empower young people and raise their capabilities.