Unicef India and Facebook on Monday launched a one-year joint initiative to end violence against children with a special focus on online safety.

In a statement, Unicef said the partnership seeks to create a safe environment for children online and offline. It aims to improve children’s resilience and capacity to access the digital world safely, increase awareness on violence against children and its impact on children, families and communities, as well as enhance skills of communities and frontline workers to better prevent and respond to violence.

The partnership will include a nationwide social media campaign and capacity building for 1,00,000 schoolchildren on online safety, digital literacy and psychosocial support, it said.

The virtual launch of the initiative was attended by Joint Secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Development Aastha Saxena Khatwani, Facebook Head of Programmes and Outreach Madhu Sirohi, and Unicef India Deputy Representative Programmes Yasumasa Kimura.

Threats in Covid times

Khatwani said, “In the last year-and-a-half, the internet has enabled children to continue with their education, removing the barriers of time and geography. As we encourage children to explore the great knowledge resource available online, we should be cognisant of the threats that come along with the all-pervasive nature of these online mediums.”

Ericsson joins hands with Unicef in fight against Covid-19 pandemic in India

Kimura said, “The Covid-19 pandemic has increased chances for children to face violence — whether online or offline. Acknowledging the significant efforts being made to end violence against children, it’s important that different stakeholders come together, to increase awareness, change behaviours and perceptions around how, when and where violence against children occurs.

Vulnerable and in the discomfort zone

“This is critical to promote better understanding of the violence and most effective ways to ensure child safety both online and offline,” he said.

Power of digital platforms

Sirohi said, “The pandemic has spurred the adoption of digital platforms. Being online gives young people so many choices. It gives them skills such as self-control and resilience that can help them make decisions that will lead to positive outcomes both online and offline.” “Protecting children online is important to us and we take this responsibility seriously. Over the years we have worked with parents, governments and safety experts to offer a safe online experience for the youngest members of our community... Through this partnership we want to help them participate in public life by using the power of digital platforms, and to advocate for issues they care about,” she said.