Coronavirus outbreak: How children across world fall victims to cyberbullying during lockdown
New Delhi, Apr 15: Several children from across the world are at increased risk of online sexual exploitation, cyberbullying and violence as they spend more time on the internet due to the closing of schools amid COVID-19 lockdown.
In a report, the UNICEF said, "Spending more time on virtual platforms can leave children vulnerable to online sexual exploitation and grooming, as predators look to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic. A lack of face-to-face contact with friends and partners may lead to heightened risk-taking such as sending sexualised images, while increased and unstructured time online may expose children to potentially harmful and violent content as well as greater risk of cyberbullying."
It also urged schools to update the current safeguarding policies to reflect the new realities for children learning from home; promote and monitor good online behaviours and ensure that children have continued access to school-based counselling services.
The UNICEF also urged the parents to ensure children's devices have the latest software updates and antivirus programs. Have open dialogues with children on how and with whom they are communicating online. Work with children to establish rules for how, when, and where the internet can be used and be familiar with school district policies and local reporting mechanisms and have access to numbers of support helplines and hotline handy.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on Wednesday, issued revised guidelines to be taken by the ministries and government departments from state and Union Territory (UT).
According to the improvised guidelines by the MHA, sports complexes, swimming pools, bars, cinema halls, malls and shopping complexes would remain closed till May 3.
The guidelines further noted that all the educational institutions, coaching centres, domestic and international air travel and train services would remain suspended till May 3 to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.