More than 800 million children and adolescents are exposed to criminal behaviour online, say scholars
Religious scholar Shaikh Ibrahim Lethome, Secretary General, Centre for Sustainability in Kenya; Hany Farid, professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, US; Brigadier General Mohammad Humaid Bin Dalmuj Al Dhaheri, secretary general of the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Father Bishoy Fakhri, patron of the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Anthony in Abu Dhabi and the moderator.
Abu Dhabi: Religious scholars and experts in cybercrimes against children and their sexual exploitation will gather in Abu Dhabi to find solutions for safer communities and protection of children.
More than 800 million children and adolescents are exposed to criminal behaviour online, while the issue of child abuse and exploitation on the Internet are not just a concern, it is an unprecedented reality, the scholars agreed.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) in Abu Dhabi organised a media briefing to detail about the upcoming first “Interfaith Alliance” in November 19-20 in the capital where scholars will discuss about the “Child Dignity Online”.
They emphasised to mobilise the global action by people of every faith, create dialogue in every place of worship and involve people of all faiths to combat the menace.
Addressing the media at the MoI premises, Brigadier General Mohammad Humaid Bin Dalmuj Al Dhaheri, secretary general of the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, said, “We need to unitedly address the current social issue pertaining to the society. Our government has taken many measures to combat crimes pertaining to the menace.”
“Now we have to unite all religious leaders, experts and leaders from all sectors to protect rights of children and their dignity, and provide a safeguard on the internet.” he added.
The initiative of Interfaith Alliance is the only source to reach to communities of all religions to introduce and partner with them to speed up activities local and international levels – to fight crimes against children and adolescence-, Al Dhaheri said.
However, the forum will provide the religious leaders the information and necessary tools to help children and families and suggest them ways of protecting their children from the abuses in the society and online.
About 450 religious leaders from across the world will gather in Abu Dhabi.
Scholars believed that religious leaders leave and indelible imprints on minds of people, so their roles in the protection of the families, children and society are key. They are supposed to protect them from being exploited in all spheres of life particularly online – biggest threat to children today.
Around one in eight young people in the world have been bullied on social media and nearly one billion children and youth are online. It’s estimated that three to 20 billion dollars annual revenue comes from the child sexual abuse material industry.
Religious scholar Shaikh Ebrahim Lethome, Secretary General, Centre for Sustainable in Kenya, asserted on spreading awareness among children and families and telling the magnitude of the child exploitations.
“We have to tell families their responsibilities towards their children and that they are best custodian of their children,” he said.
Father Bishoy Fakhri, patron of the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Anthony in Abu Dhabi, said, “This is not a religious problem only but it’s a community problem, too. Here churches and other religious platforms should have programmes to deal with different kinds of challenges in the society including educating about the social issues and cautioning them and rehabilitating children.”
Speaking about the child dignity in digital world, Hany Farid, professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, United States, said, “Insensitive and bad contents are cycled every day online and it strips off the dignity of children and I have propagated for many years to stop the exploitation of children online.”
All social media platforms operators know that their platforms are used for child’s sexual exploitations to groom young children, trade them, and they are profiting from it and they have been far too slow to act, Farid said.
“We need to develop technology and highly skilled teams to monitors contents and let only the right contents be online,” he suggested.