From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, has said steps must be taken to protect children from the harmful effects of the internet.

Abbas stated this, on Tuesday, in Abuja, while declaring open a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Justice on the Child Online Access Protection Bill. The speaker, who was represented by the Chief Whip, Bello Kumo, said all hands must be on deck to protect children from the harmful effects of the internet.

Consequently, he stated that it was imperative for the country to key into global best practices in the protection of children from offensive online contents.

According to him, “The protection of children on the internet cannot be overemphasise because we are in a digital world.We must key in to global best practices and our children must not be exposed to an extent where some people take advantage of them in abusing them. “

The chairman, House Committee on Justice, Olumide Osoba, said the proposed legislation appreciates the danger online violence poses to the young persons, and has put in place effects safeguards to address the challenge.

Osoba said: “The safety and wellbeing of our children in this digital age should be our utmost priority, and I commend your efforts to address the issue of online violence and protect our young ones from its harmful effects.

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“The internet has undoubtedly revolutionised our society, connecting people from all works of life and providing countless opportunities for learning, growth and entertainment.

“However, it also brings with it risk, particularly for the vulnerable minds of the online world have unfortunately given rise to various forms of violence, including cyber bullying, harassment, and even exploitation. As responsible members of this society, it is our duty to ensure that our children are shielded from such harm.”

Furthermore, the lawmaker stated that “by setting up regulations to restrict access to harmful content, imposing stricter penalties for perpetrators, and promoting digital literacy programs, we can create a safer online environment for our children to explore and thrive in.

“This bill’s foresight in including educational initiatives demonstrates an understanding that prevention and awareness are equally essential components in countering online violence.

“Moreover, this Bill recognises the need for collaborative effort between parents, educators, internet service providers and the government.

“By ensuring a holistic approach to the issue, we can collectively work towards an internet culture that promotes empathy, respect, and understanding, rather than one that fosters violence and harm. “