Lead SALead SA

Campaign empowers young people to stay safe online

Written by: Megan Ellis

While 16 Days of Activism focuses on abuse against women and children, an issue that is often left out is abuse which takes place online.

Online abuse doesn't leave bruises or scars, but the effects on victims can be life-altering, like other kinds of emotional and verbal abuse.

There are also other consequences that can result in loss of future job prospects and daily harassment.
So, what is being done about it?

Well, one programme – Web Rangers – aims to help the youth create safe online environments for themselves. The programme was created in partnership with Media Monitoring Africa and LeadSA.

The project's current #16Plus campaign is using online videos to educate kids about online abuse and how to stay safe.

Web Rangers Project Coordinator Phakamile Khumalo says that they hope this will empower the youth with the knowledge they need.

The videos are created by the youth, for the youth. In an interview on CapeTalk, Khumalo pointed out just how important programmes like these are.

"We've taken on the initiative to say 'What can we do with our young people to create an environment where it's safe and they are using the internet in a responsible and safe way?"

Phakamile Khumalo, Web Rangers Project Coordinator

Parents and schoolteachers often have limited knowledge and experience with many digital platforms, so one of the best ways to keep teens safe is to get youth directly involved.

"What we do is that outside of school and outside of the home, we then take young people and empower young people with critical skills and knowledge around online safety."

Phakamile Khumalo, Web Rangers Project Coordinator

The Web Rangers programme trains kids in digital skills. The teens then later become Web Ranger ambassadors who spread what they've learnt to others.

Khumalo says that just in 2017, over 300 youth have gone through the programme.

Listen to Khumalo's full interview below:

If you want to find out more about the project, you can visit the Web Rangers site. The #16Plus video campaign can be followed on the LeadSA and WebRangers Instagram accounts. And if you want to read more about what you can do to keep online spaces safe, visit Media Monitoring Africa's HashPlay site – which offers multiple resources and even an advice column.




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