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MTN Zambia and IWF launch Child Safety Online Africa Portal

MTN partners with IWF, Meta, ICMEC, and Child Helpline International to launch the ‘Help Children be Children’ campaign and Child Safety Online Africa Portal to  help prevent the spread of child sexual abuse material online  

MTN Group has joined forces with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) Meta, ICMEC  (the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children) and Child Helpline International, with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime  (UNODC), to launch the Help Children be Children campaign and the Child Safety  Online Africa Portal to increase public awareness of the impact of Child Sexual Abuse  Material and help prevent its spread in target countries on the African continent.  

From 2019 to 2020, the number of reports received by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) of child sexual abuse images and videos uploaded from the African continent grew by a staggering 81% to almost 2,4 million.  

This new campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the gradual increase of Child  Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and how it can be reported by the public in target countries. Additionally, the campaign will help train law enforcement and child helplines in target countries, and positively engage policymakers and stakeholders through roundtables, to join the global fight against CSAM. 

Nompilo Morafo, Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer said, “Protecting children online is a global challenge, which requires a global approach. As we lead digital solutions for Africa’s progress, we have a critical role in ensuring that every  African child is kept safe online. In alignment with our African values, we need to join  forces to create a safe online village for our children. One where they are free from  fear, humiliation, and abuse. One where they can have a normal childhood.”  

MTN funded the development of the Child Safety Online Africa Portal and awareness  campaign in partnership with the IWF. The portal is aimed at eradicating the spread  of child sexual abuse online and provides internet users with a tool to report any  record of child sexual abuse material available online across the continent.  

Emma Hardy Communications Director at the IWF said “We have successfully  launched 49 portals all around the world, including 23 in Africa, providing a tool to  report illegal imagery to millions. Through the portals, the IWF and its partners such  as MTN are working with governments, law enforcement units and other organizations  to enable every single person to report child sexual abuse material online.”  

Images and videos of child sexual abuse show real children who have been victims of  some of the worst forms of abuse. By reporting child sexual abuse material online through the portal, photos and videos will be assessed by IWF’s experienced analysts  and removed from the internet if confirmed to be child sexual abuse in nature.  

David Miles, Head of Safety at Meta for Europe, Middle East and Africa said: “For more  than a decade, we’ve been an industry leader in child safety around the world. We’ve  helped build the tools used to investigate this terrible crime, rescue children and bring  justice to victims. While we invest heavily in industry-leading tools to prevent such  abuse from happening in the first place, it’s also important we spread awareness  through campaigns and partnerships like this one so no child should ever have to face  this abuse, whether offline or online.” 

Bob Cunningham, President & CEO of the International Centre for Missing and  Exploited Children, said, “The prevalence of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is a  growing threat in Africa and around the world. Every time abusive images are viewed  or shared, children are revictimized. Therefore, it is essential that CSAM is reported, and local authorities have the tools and capacities to protect child victims. This  awareness campaign is a crucial step to reaching parents, caregivers, and  communities to help prevent future abuse before it happens.”  

Patrick Krens, Executive Director at Child Helpline International said: “If we want to  be more effective and efficient in our combat against online sexual exploitation and  abuse of children and young people we must invest more time, money and human  resources in the 3Ps of Prevention, Protection and Prosecution. For all three areas it  is important to listen to what children have to say to us and each other. Every child  has a voice, and we believe that no child should be left unheard.”  

Carmen Corbin, Advisor for the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime, Global  Programme on Cybercrime in Africa said “Building strong capacities in the national  criminal justice sectors in Africa to investigate and prosecute online child exploitation  is one of our programme’s priorities. But we are also aware that public awareness and  prevention campaigns are the first line of defense that will make communities,  families, and children able to avoid and report child sexual abuse material online. We  want a safer Internet for all children, a place where they can learn, play and develop  their talents without being threatened by predators”.  

While 23 countries in Africa have already stepped up and developed their own portal  or hotline, the Child Safety Online Africa Portal will be accessible in countries where  there is not yet a reporting mechanism to ensure even more countries on the  continent are able to report child sexual abuse material.  

To help children be children today, for tomorrow, report child sexual abuse  material through this portal: https://report.iwf.org.uk/mtn/

Source: MTN Zambia