The Cambodia National Council for Children has appealed to all stakeholders to tackle online child sexual abuse and exploitation, noting that internet use in Cambodia is flourishing.
CNCC yesterday held a workshop with officials from relevant ministries and Unicef in Phnom Penh to formulate a strategy to tackle the issue.
Nhep Sopheap, CNCC secretary-general, said that while the use of the internet benefits a lot of people, it can negatively affect children.
She noted the government’s concerns over online porn, child grooming and extortion.
“In today’s digital era, although there are many benefits from using the internet, we are worried about online child abuse and exploitation and we all need to combat this problem together,” Ms Sophea said.
She appealed to internet providers to monitor their services to protect from online predators and report them to the police.
“It is our priority to protect children and the government is committed to stop child abuse and exploitation,” Ms Sophea noted.
Miho Yoshikawa, a Unicef representative, said that nowadays most people use mobile phones and many of them have smartphones.
She said that Cambodia is embracing the digital era, including reducing the costs of phones so that more people can use them.
Ms Yoshikawa noted that the increased use of smartphones has sparked worldwide concern over threats to children from online predators.
“All parties must protect children from becoming victims of online predators,” she said. “We must prevent children from watching porn or being groomed or extorted by online predators.”
Soung Sophea, 35, a parent who was at the workshop, said he allows his daughter to use a mobile phone to easily keep in touch with the family.
However, he voiced his concern that she might use the internet and be exposed to negative activities. Mr Sophea noted that he has advised his daughter to only use the phone but not the internet.
“I allow her to use a phone but not to access the Internet because I am worried that she may be exposed to negative activities or make contact with strangers.
Last month, the CNCC launched a nationwide drive to get the public to actively participate in efforts to tackle child abuse.
The CNCC plans to distribute leaflets and posters stressing the need for the community to work together to protect children and also educate the public on the laws and penalties on all forms of abuse.
It also appealed to those who come across abuses to report these through its hotline 1288 or phone 092 311 511.
According to the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC), more than 330,700 SIM cards were registered during the first three months of the year while the number of mobile internet users went up by nearly 490,000 compared to last year.