Online education has impacted greatly on children’s life by exposing them to many positive and negative consequences because they spend more time online alone. According to the UNODC, online sexual harassment against a minor constitutes the use of ICT by an adult to harass a kid sexually using tricks, bribery, pressure, or threats.
Section VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects children from any form of sexual harassment. If a child, their parents, guardian, or teachers feel that a child under their care is facing sexual harassment online, they should seek legal help immediately.
What the law defines as sexual harassment
According to sexual harassment attorneys, sexual harassment against a minor can involve any or all of the following vices – sharing sexual content online like videos or images against the recipient’s consent. Creating sexual content and distributing it to recipients without their consent. Using threats, intimidation, or coercion to try and win someone to have sexual engagement with them either online or offline.
How can a child get sexually harassed while pursuing online education?
Online education is gaining pace fast and children pursuing their online education are required to be connected to the internet during lesson taking. Those in regular schools also get assignments from their teachers and some of the assignments require the kids to go online and do research.
They may seek help from several websites, sign up to others or just browse others to get the information they need. Sexual predators get them during their browsing journey and start wooing them into sexual engagement through all or some of the above means. If the child has no one to guide them at that moment, they can easily fall prey.
If there is control on the part of the parent, guardian, or teachers, the child might not get access to sites online other than those recommended by education stakeholders. However, most parents lack guidance and leave their kids free to access any site they wish at any time.
What steps one should take
If a child is older, they can seek legal help if they notice anyone or website sending them inappropriate content, making sexual suggestions, offering gifts in exchange for sex, and so on. On the other hand, parents need to do follow-ups on which sites their kids are visiting and if they find any form of sexual harassment from any individual or website, they should take legal action immediately to help protect the child.
Online education is beneficial but there should be control over what kids should access. To protect them, it is better for parents, guardians, and teachers to put restrictions on what sites their children should access.
Most operating systems allow settings on the level of nudity allowed, blocking strong language use online, or accessing specific websites and blocking others. There should also be an elaborate way to educate children on policies, legislation, and their rights. They need to be taught self-regulation, positive use of the internet, and sexual harassment awareness. An adult should help them understand what inappropriate content, conduct, internet addiction, sexual grooming, bullying, and harassment means.
Roles by schools
The school has a bigger role in educating children on their rights, sexual harassment, and how to avoid it. They should offer support to victims and set aside teaching sessions on online use, its pros, and cons. The administrators, together with the teaching staff, must set guiding policies on children’s access and use of the internet.
Schools should be keener when addressing kids on gender issues and become sensitive on training children not to become online sexual bullies as they grow and when they become adults. They will learn to become responsible from an early age.