Child safety and security against violent extremism

In Summary

• Studies show that young people are more specifically targeted and vulnerable to radicalization and being easily influenced content from popular media platforms.

• We must stop the pretense and work around creating an atmosphere that protects children from those intent on entrench or promote violent extremism conducive environments in schools, home and other areas.

A number of people have shown displeasure with efforts about exposure of children and the youth to harmful media content including radicalization.

Given the current challenges that children and the youth are facing, escalated by COVID 19, radicalization and violent extremism, we must work together to ensure these children are protected secured against threats.  

This irritation should cease and people support efforts to limit children exposure to such tempting content including recruitment into criminal groups, now that a number of them are using online platforms for educational purposes, which inadvertently allows them access to harmful information.

Studies show that young people are more specifically targeted and vulnerable to radicalization and being easily influenced content from popular media platforms.

We must stop the pretense and work around creating an atmosphere that protects children from those intent on entrench or promote violent extremism conducive environments in schools, home and other areas.

The fact that children in learning institutions are highly exposed to such tendencies like exposure to harmful content including their teachers, caregivers and learning tools, requires that special interventions are put in place to guard against their access to such content.

This calls for more enhanced interventions on media and digital literacy in learning centers, that will help children have basic skills to analyse and understand the importance or limits of consuming media content and information from digital platforms.

Article 53 of the Constitution provides that all children are protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, al forms of violence, inhumane treatment and punishment.

Kenya is a signatory to a number of international including the UN Convention on the rights of children and the African Charter on the rights and welfare of children, which domestically have been entrenched through the Children’s Acts.

Interventions aimed at securing children against harmful content must be alive to that fact that t internet enabled smart phones are providing young people access to information that if not supported with media and digital literacy will be dangerous.

Suffice to note that online platforms have exposed young people to learning about anything including harmful content aimed at influencing their choices towards violence.  

Besides places of worship and social clubs, there is increasing evidence that the university, aided by internet access and use, is increasingly becoming a “heaven” for radicalization and recruitment into violent extremism.

I find the recently launched a Guide on Child Safety and Security against Violent Extremism (CSSAVE) by the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) and the Ministry of Education respond to the threats targeted at our learners very topical. 

The guideline acknowledges that learning institutions are fertile grounds for recruitment as the indoctrination process used by violent extremist elements in recruiting young people over the internet resembles tactics employed by online predators whereby they first gain trust of their targets over time, and gradually impact radical ideologies.  

The guidelines will help school managers to respond, report and track any cases of violent extremism in schools and offer the help needed by learners.

The easy to use guide is premised in the early detection and response before the risk of criminal recruitment and identifies other risks to safety and security that makes learners more vulnerable to radicalization into violent extremism.

Both the code of conduct of the practice of journalism in Kenya and the programme code for broadcasters require that children are protected against harmful and violent content.

Its not a favour that children are asking for, its the responsibility of gate keepers to security children from harmful content including radicalization.