The Child Safety Department (CSD) of the Sharjah Supreme Council for Family Affairs, has announced the commencement of the evaluation process for its ‘Cyber Safety Ambassadors’ initiative. This initiative aims to provide children and youth with required skills and training, to guide their peers towards best practices in online safety.
A total of 85 children and youth, aged 10-18 years, are competing for the ‘Cyber Safety Ambassadors’ title, an online safety training programme, which was launched by CSD last month, on the occasion of Emirati Children’s Day. The young nominees hail from Sharjah Children, Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah and Sharjah Youth, which are subsidiaries of Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating Leaders and Innovators, in addition to nominees from Sharjah Girl Guides and Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services.
The assessment process will run from April 9-15, during which candidates’ performance will be evaluated by a jury that comprises of Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Director of CSD, Lieutenant Colonel Tariq Al Midfa, Department Director of Strategy and Performance Development at Sharjah Police, Eng. Abdullah Al Jallaf, Security Analyst at the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), and Suad Al Marzouqi, Head of the Child Protection Unit at the Ministry of Community Development.
The candidates will be assessed based on certain criteria, including the ability to prepare and deliver a presentation based on scientific content, containing educational information about safety rules while browsing internet sites and using social media platforms. These presentations for evaluation will also contain information on laws and legislations pertaining to child rights and cyber safety. The selection criteria also include good moral conduct and good public speaking.
Following the assessment phase, the 20 best candidates will be shortlisted to join the initiative. The finalists will receive a two-month intensive training programme to equip themselves with cyberspace knowledge and communication skills. This training in turn, is geared at helping them to prepare for peer-to-peer workshops at summer camps, child care institutions and public and private schools.
Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Director of CSD, said, “We are delighted with the large number of candidates who are eager to qualify for this training. This clearly indicates that majority of our youth are aware of the dangers and challenges that exist in cyberspace and understand the need of such initiatives to overcome them.
“We are confident that the programme will make a difference in our society, and lead to increased awareness among children and youth about safer and more responsible online behaviour. We aim to nurture future generations who can guard themselves and their peers from cyberbullying.”
Suad Al Marzouqi, Head of the Child Protection Unit at the Ministry of Community Development, said, “This initiative reflects the ministry’s keenness to strengthen cooperation with various federal and local entities concerned with children’s safety, to educate younger generations about the need to abide by the laws of the land, that’ll help to minimise cyberspace risks”.
Cyber security and human rights
Eng. Abdullah Al Jallaf, Security Analyst at the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), said, “TRA is responsible for ensuring cyber safety of individuals. Since security begins with awareness and education, we have supported and partnered with the Child Safety Department for their ‘Cyber Safety Ambassadors’ initiative, which aligns with our vision represented by securing telecom services across the country. We believe that this innovative, youth-to-youth awareness project will be exceptionally effective in delivering cyber safety messages.”
Lieutenant Colonel Tariq Al Midfa, Department Director of Strategy and Performance Development at Sharjah Police, said, “Online safety is no less important than our daily need for physical and emotional security. People must be equipped with adequate knowledge about safety measures in the virtual space, especially because the digital society has a major influence on people’s behaviour, especially young people”.
The selected candidates as ‘ambassadors’ will be required to conduct workshops for one year as per their age groups. Youth aged 13-18, will deliver 10 workshops, while children aged 10-12, will deliver a minimum of 5 workshops.
The initiative was launched in collaboration with a number of federal and local entities, including the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), Ministry of Community Development (MOCD), Khalifa Empowerment Programme – Aqdar, and Sharjah Police. It exemplifies CSD’s keenness to increase cyber awareness among young people by training them and developing their communication and presentation skills, especially while addressing an audience, in order to convey the messages successfully to their peers.