Preventing child cyber bullying
It's been eight months; students are detached from the traditional classroom settings and lacking interactions with fellows and teachers due to COVID-19 crisis. To ensure safety and education of a child, government followed the recommendation of UNESCO by introducing online education system. To adjust in new normal life, children are learning used to be in online education system but this having negative impacts on children. Children are facing online sexual harassment for the frequent use of internet. They are not only using internet for education but also for entertainment, as they are confined in four walls and not allowed to go outside.
In this tech based world, our children are involving vulnerably towards cyber harassment. A study of UNICEF found that, almost 32% of children between the ages of 10-17 in Bangladesh are harassed by online violence, cyber bulling and digital harassment. And the same report published that many children are involved with cyber crime. It is true that, today there is no way to ensure education without internet. But children and young people become the prime victims of online harassment which hampers their physical and mental strength.
To control the spread of child abuse, government introduce different laws in which The Children Act, 2013 is the supreme Act. This Act prohibits child abuse by defining different types of child abuse. But a major part 'online sexual harassment of children' is absent from the Act. There is no adequate provision to address the ongoing trend of "Online Child Abuse". The categorization of child abuse needs to be extended to online abuse. Another issue is that, this problem is not dealt under the Children Act, 2013 which creates other problems.
The Children Act, 2013 is one of the supreme laws in protection of children but the online abuse of children is particularly dealt under the Digital Security Act, 2018. And Digital Security Act doesn't provide any particular definition of online abuse or cyber bulling of children. Similarly, there is no specific provision on online child abuse in the Penal Code and Nari o Sishu Nirjaton Daman Ain, 2000. So this matter is in lack of specification which is giving opportunity to the cyber criminals to commit crime more. As it is a sensitive issue related to child, it should be tried in separate cyber juvenile court. Even suspected children's of cybercrime need separate cell under this court.
Most of the victims or their guardians are not interested to take legal assistance as it would hamper their personal life and privacy. Section 28 of the Children Act ensures the privacy of the child victim which is absent in the Digital Security Act. Privacy of the child victim and criminal is a serious issue as it is related to his or her mental stability. Again internet based crimes spread fast and probability says criminals can hide themselves easily. So time limits of these cases from investigation to trial need to be reconsidered.
Government should take initiatives to update the Children's Act, 2013 withstanding this situation. Or if this particular issue will be conducted under DSA, then the law needs complete specification of online child abuse. In this regard, acceptation of digital evidences under Evidence Law needs to be reconsidered. Penal Code was formulated a long time ago; it should be updated thinking our current situation. For making a digitalized nation, it is important to have proper knowledge on using internet. At present, large number of children are using internet but most of them started using internet with 'zero' knowledge of black sides of internet. They are not aware of using internet and rarely have proper knowledge about sexual abuse.
In the meantime, UNICEF organized different programmes and adopted policies to ensure safe digitalization for a child. As well as reconsidering the laws, Government should introduce a centre of digital policies to deal with this specific problem. Along with Government, national human right organizations with technical experts can take initiative to protect a child from online abuse. Social media authorities should also help concerned authorities by providing details of criminals to stop spreading online child abuse. To protect a child from online abuse we all need collaboration.
The writer is a student, Department of Law, University of Chittagong