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Police seek to put children out of harm's way online.

Dubai Efforts to safeguard children from the risks associated with the internet took centre stage with a new campaign launched by Dubai Police yesterday.

The campaign -- EoACAyEnsure their safety and don't disregard their curiosity' -- targets schoolchildren, their families and schools all over Dubai.

It aims to educate parents about allowing their children to indulge their curiosity for knowledge through the internet while informing them about the proper ways to use it, keeping a strict watch on their children's internet access.

"Immunising children can only be done through proper upbringing that produces an educated generation that is also committed to their religion, traditional moral values and culture," Major General Khamis Al Mazeina, Deputy Dubai Police Chief, said.

Commenting on the campaign launched by the Community Service Department and the Electronic Services Department of Dubai Police, Maj Gen Al Mazeina said the initiative was intended more as a precautionary measure and not because misuse of the internet is common.

"You do not wait until you are sick to have a medical check-up, and the same goes for social problems. These problems happen all over the world and we cannot be sure that they will not hit us, so we need to prepare ahead and provide our society with the means to face them," he said.

Parents' role

Prevention does not mean preventing children from accessing the net or asking for more government control because children will have the chance to do it and will do it anyway if they are not convinced that it is harmful for them, he added.

"As a parent, it is your duty to supervise your children's use of internet by checking their browsing history, for example, but the main and most important part is educating them about their culture and religion and making sure they have self-discipline," Maj Gen Al Mazeina said.

Brigadier Mohammad Saeed Bakheet, director of Electronic Services, said prevention is key to fighting crime and protection of children is a priority since they form the most vulnerable section of society.

"Children can fall victim to criminals who roam the net, and we have heard of cases when children, especially girls, have fallen victim to blackmail because they chatted with a stranger online or sent their pictures," he said.

"We should not prevent our children from using the internet but should guide them on safe use and alert them against the possible risks," he added.

Mariam Al Shumi, director of the Child Department at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the ministry was coordinating with economic departments to ban children from being allowed access to internet cafes.

Preventive move

"There are many risks associated with children going to these places unsupervised. Sexual harassment is one of them, and using the internet to access websites not appropriate for their ages is another," she said.

first steps

rational approach

n Educate children about the advantages and risks of using the internet.

n Set out rules defining times of access and website categories they are allowed to access. Inform children that not all information on the internet is true or reliable.

n Remind them that anything they post on the internet cannot be taken off. Instruct children not to disclose personal or financial information, including real name, address, parents' work place or school name and personal and family photos.

-- D.A.H.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Mar 5, 2012
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