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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trained E-cafes protect kids from web sex

Trained E-cafes protect kids from web sex

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Sébastien Marot, coordinator for Friends International awards a certificate to a representative of Netcast internet cafe during a ceremony at the Phnom Penh ChildSafe Center on September 8.

Internet cafés are the latest group to join "ChildSafe" - the two

year old Cambodian network whose goal is to involve businesses in protecting children

from all forms of abuse.

Certificates were awarded at a ceremony on September 8 to seven participating Internet

centers on completion of a course in how to assist young computer users to avoid

dangers on the web.

"The internet is playing a big role today in the sex industry," Sébastien

Marot, coordinator for Friends International, the parent NGO of ChildSafe, said at

the ceremony. "It is important to help young ones be aware of the dangers and

know how to protect themselves."

Marot said many industries can help child safety. Taxi drivers monitor the streets

for vulnerable, sick or abused youth; guesthouses report suspicious adults bringing

children into their rooms. He welcomed the seven Phnom Penh Internet cafes, saying

they can play a key role in advising young customers about Internet sex predators

or dangerous online pornography.

Since it began in 2005, ChildSafe has created a network of 436 hotel and guesthouse

employees, 326 tuk-tuk and motorcycle taxi drivers, tour companies, magazines and

websites who are cooperating to protect vulnerable children from abuse. The group

says it has "directly assisted" 174 children and helped to create a safer

environment for many others since it was launched.

Sim Or, director of the Sonthor Mok Internet chain, which has three locations in

Phnom Penh, said he sees increasing numbers of young customers getting involved in

dangerous online relationships, often making arrangements to meet the people alone.

He said sometimes the young people start out intending to look for online information

about contraception or sexual health, but instead get led to adult pornography sites.

In the training course particpants were shown potentially dangerous situations that

may come up in "online chatting." Risks such as giving out personal information

online or allowing access to personal photos that could be manipulated and used for

other purposes or arranging to meet someone met on line were brought up.

The training also mentioned the new Khmer language sexual health website, health

and love.org launched in July 2006. The so called Health and Love or "Dr Love"

website currently receives about 3,000 hits per month and an average 30 questions

a month submitted on line, said ChildSafes' online trainer Hem Vichet.

"Now I can give better advice to young people that come to use the internet,"

said Sim Or. "Maybe I can't always give the best advice, but at least now the

advice I have to give is much better.

Friends, also known as Mith Samlanh, first started working with street children in

Phnom Penh in 1994. They now run health and education projects. Among the services

they offer are drop in centers, an HIV program and vocational training in their own

restaurants and retail shops.

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