This is the month of love. Lots of love is expressed and shared and experienced...but is it so for children as well? Like every living being, children need genuine love and affection within the environments they exist. This allows them to thrive in their childhood and to blossom into responsible adults...but is the needed genuine love available to them? Mercy (not her real name) who is a 15 year old girl, went about her business online checking out different content and chatting with friends. While online, she got a friend request from a person who presented himself as a famous musical artist whose music was the talk of town. Mercy was elated! She accepted the friend request and continued engaging with the celebrity online. The messages between each other were friendly, with each of them sharing details about themselves in detail and getting to know each other better. She felt appreciated and listened to and valued. She had truly gotten a friend. That he was a celebrity made it even more interesting and she felt extra special. After a while, her online friend invited her to join him during a live performance concert outside the country. He promised to take care of all the trip expenses. All she need to do is raise USD300 for visa facilitation. This, he said, was urgent as it was the first step before he could make other logistical arrangements. Mercy started going round asking for money from her friends and relatives, in desperation but with no clear reason why she urgently needed the cash. It was until one of her counsins promised her the full amount in exchange for the truth, that Mercy spilt the beans. The case was reported to Childline Kenya urgently for attention. In close collaboration with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations the true identity of Mercy's "celebrity" was revealed and the fraudulent scheme aborted. Mercy was shocked to know who the true person behind the "celebrity" image was. She was gently psychoeducated on how to keep herself and others safe while on the online space as she continued attending therapy sessions to deal with the resultant trauma. Mercy, like other children her age, enjoyed the sense of belonging and appreciation and therefore fell prey easily to the tricks of her "celebrity" online friend. Childline Kenya works with partners to promote child safety from online sexual exploitation and abuse. The specific activities target four (4) domains as follows:
More partners are invited to join this worthy cause to support children like Mercy who may be taken advantage of on the online space, despite the incredible benefits found on the online space as well. We appreciate all current and past partnerships for the wellbeing of children and look forward to even more partnerships and support. Let us Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya and may we all commit to give warmth to every child around us...or at least to not harm them.
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