Awino began to make many new friends online, and some began asking to meet her. One of them, Chris, even promised her a trip to the beach during the school holiday. He seemed like a very nice person. Awino excitedly shared the news with one of the youth club leaders, Pauline. Awino was surprised at her shocked reaction. Pauline asked her to block Chris immediately from her social media. She told her stories of many other young women who had been deceived by online acquaintances and gave her newspaper clippings with similar stories. Awino was confused and troubled. She had shared much of her life with Chris, who was very understanding. She felt unsafe and afraid.
There is an increasing awareness that young women can come to harm through their online activity and innocent interaction with strangers. This could be sexual, financial or bullying. What can start as a scam, or innocent new relationships can quickly accelerate.
As technology changes often, we can never think we know enough. Many online safety programs are available, which would be invaluable for you as a youth worker and your colleagues. We should encourage each other to keep updated as new risks and scams emerge. Take a look for example at https://www.educare.co.uk/courses/child-protection. These programs would also help you speak to young people in such a way that you can help them understand online safety and help them feel secure. It is also important that the young people attend these courses and are put in touch with experts who can guide them in this space.
You might also be interested in
- “Safe Online” Training Module (Kenya) (terresdeshommes.nl)
- UNICEF South Africa – Online Safety (unicef.org)
- Safer Internet South Africa (saferinternetsouthafrica.co)
- Cyber Safety Resources (ispa.org)
- Cyber Safety Resources for Children and Teens (ispa.org)
- LSE Blog – Children’s Online Safety in Nigeria: The Government’s Critical Role (lse.ac.uk)
- Keeping Children Safe Online – Nigeria (PDF) (ncc.gov.ng)
- Disupting Harm in Kenya – Report (end-violence.org)