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Chapter 4 Continued –
The Transformation

Safe Clics: Empowering Kenyan Communities for Child Online Safety

"I felt so scared, I didn't know what to do anymore as this man on social media began threatening to share everything with my family and friends if I refused to meet him in person.” Abigail (name changed), a seventeen-year-old student, found herself entangled in a web of deceit spun by a man she met on social media.

Abigail: "I can't meet you in person. I'm sorry, but I just don't think this is a good idea."

Groomer: "You're making a big mistake, Abigail. If you're going to be difficult, I'll just have to show your family and friends our conversations. I have screenshots of everything. I know all your friends on social media."

Abigail: "Please, I'm begging you, don't share anything with my family or friends. I'll do whatever you want."

Groomer: "That's better. Meet me tomorrow at the coffee shop downtown. Don't make me regret giving you another chance."


Abigail’s tale began innocently enough, with flattery and admiration that made her feel special. While children are frequently abused or exploited by individuals they know, the digital realm also presents new avenues for interactions with strangers, increasing the potential risks they face. Abigail’s conversation evolved into an online relationship, with promises of gifts and luxuries in return for photos, and eventually a face-to-face meeting. As Abigail's discomfort grew, she courageously refused to meet the man in person. However, the man's demeanour took a dark turn, and he transformed from a seemingly charming figure to a threatening presence. He vowed to expose all their conversations to Abigail's family and friends, plunging her into a state of fear, shame, and humiliation.

Abigail, feeling lost and unsure of whom to talk to, was unaware of the support that awaited her. Thanks to the efforts of ChildFund Kenya and the Safe Clics project, which received vital funds from Safe Online, Abigail's story took a different turn.

“ChildFund Kenya, through the Safe Clics project, addresses critical gaps in child online safety. It began with increasing awareness on online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA), equipping children and youth with online safety skills, and empowering service providers, schools, communities, parents, and caregivers to detect and respond to online CSEA. This project also aims to strengthen Kenya's national framework and improve inter-agency coordination,” shares Chege Ngugi, County Director, ChildFund International.

"Today, she feels confident, safer and she is stronger.”

Abigail's school was part of the initiative. Mr. Mwangi, the project coordinator at the school, underwent training provided by ChildFund Kenya. This training, supported by Safe Online funds, focused on educating teachers about online child abuse cases. Mr. Mwangi, now well-versed in the signs and dangers of online CSEA, played a pivotal role in Abigail's journey.

“After our training sessions on online child sexual abuse, Abigail could come and share for the first time about what was keeping her sleepless for months. Thanks to the training I received from ChildFund International, I could help Abigail. Together, we reached out to ChildLine Kenya. She, then, had a consultation, which still continues. Today, she feels confident, safer and she is stronger,” – Mr. Mwangi, School Teacher.

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“When she and her teacher reached out to us, she was too frightened to even speak about her suffering. I reassured her, discussing her fears and offering my support. Step by step, she is rebuilding her confidence, starting with learning about blocking and reporting tools on social media," says Caroline Atieno, lead counsellor at Child Help Hotline Kenya. She continues, "Abigail's bravery in reaching out is praiseworthy. It's crucial for young people to know they have a safe space to turn to when faced with online threats. We work closely with ChildFund Kenya, ensuring our counsellors are trained to handle such cases effectively. Knowing what to do under such circumstances is not just empowering, it saves lives. As we receive more and more calls, we feel privileged to be trusted by those in need."

The project not only educates teachers but also reaches out to the community through community champions like Anne Wanjiku. Anne, a tireless advocate for child protection in Kikuyu Village, conducts community dialogue forums to raise awareness about online CSEA ensuring that the messages resonate with the community. In numerous cases like Abigail's, community-based child protection champions such as Anne Wanjiku play a vital role.

In the lush garden of Kikuyu Village, Kenya, surrounded by the soothing sounds of nature, mothers and grandmothers gather in one of their homes on a sunny morning. As they sit together, enjoying cups of tea and coffee, Anne begins her session in the local language, Kikuyu, about child online safety. Today's focus is on the critical topic of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. Anne speaks passionately about the benefits of the internet, but also highlights the challenges and dangers it can bring to our children. She delves into topics such as grooming and sexual extortion, communicating to parents the gravity of these issues. The mothers nod in agreement.

Throughout the session, Anne encourages open dialogue and discussion. She emphasises the importance of identifying signs that a child may be experiencing a hidden and frightening trauma online. The mothers share their own experiences and concerns, creating a supportive atmosphere where they feel empowered to help their children be safe online. Anne offers practical advice on how to approach these sensitive conversations with their children. She stresses the importance of being a calm and understanding confidant, ready to provide comfort and safety. She reminds them of resources like the hotline 116, available if any issues arise. As the session draws to a close, the mothers feel more equipped and empowered to navigate the complexities of the digital world with their children. 


“It is my - and our - responsibility to be aware of what is happening and which dangers our children can face online,”

says Anne, and she continues: "I'm grateful for the training provided by ChildFund Kenya, which allows me to further advocate for the safety of our children. Integrating topics such as online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) into our community training ensures that we are equipped to address the most pressing concerns facing our children today," shares Anne, after an education session with the parents of Kikuyu Village is completed.


ChildFund Kenya's Safe Clics project has gained recognition through media platforms for advocating for safer internet spaces for children. Community-based child protection mechanisms are being strengthened, building the capacity of champions to identify and respond to online CSEA incidents. In Kenya, ChildFund Kenya's Safe Clics project is navigating the complexities of the digital world with support from Safe Online. Through collaborative efforts and active engagement at local and national levels, they're tackling challenges while showcasing resilience and innovation. Their journey, marked by human stories, highlights unity, creativity, and the enduring impact of dedicated individuals striving for a safer online environment for children. In the end, Abigail's—as well as many other children's—story continues to transform from one of abuse to safety. Thanks to the concerted efforts of ChildFund Kenya, Abigail has taken decisive steps to protect herself by blocking the person in question and utilising the support from a dedicated hotline. The hotline has been a constant source of support and Abigail feels empowered knowing what actions to take and where to turn for help. Through these measures, she, and many others, not only find their voice but also become a symbol of change for a safer online world for children in Kenya.


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