The Public Security Ministry launched a national bureau for the protection of children online on Monday, on the eve of World Children’s Day, The Jerusalem Post reports.
As of Monday, 105 will be the hotline number for any complaints regarding online harassment of children and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Announcing the launch of the bureau at a press conference, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan remarked that speaking as a father of four, there was no better time to launch the initiative than the day before World Children’s Day. Also participating in the press conference were outgoing Police commissioner Roni Alsheich; newly-appointed Police Commissioner Moshe “Chico” Edri; and head of the police’s Intelligence and Investigations Division Gadi Siso.
Erdan cited data that found that every third child in Israel is exposed to violence online and every fifth to sexual harassment. Siso added that 25% of children talk to people they don’t know online. “We are ready to make the hotline accessible to every citizen of Israel with the aim of promising a safe virtual space for our children,” he said.
“Our children are vulnerable to offensive content spread online, nudity, violence, cyberbullying, extortion, and sexual abuse,” Erdan said. “Abuse of this kind can destroy the lives of our children. I decided to change this reality and establish the National Bureau for the Protection of Children on the Internet, which from today on will be the address for all Israeli citizens. The National Bureau is a life-saving bureau.”
“Parents and children are not always aware that the harm done to their child is a criminal offense, and they do not know who to turn to. From today there is a place to go. We want children and parents to know that they are not alone, and that the new national bureau will help them,” Erdan added.
The minister touted the bureau’s model as the first of its kind in the world. The bureau will incorporate representatives from the Ministries of Education, Welfare, Justice and Health.
The hotline is staffed by specially trained police officers and members of the Ministry of Public Security, along with professionals from the aforementioned government ministries. In addition, a designated enforcement unit was established in Lahav 433, which will operate as part of the national bureau.
Erdan noted that the unit has advanced intelligence and research capabilities, and will also work to expose activities that can harm minors in the web during real time, while being present in various locations on the web that have been identified as having a significant potential for harm.
“The web enables all types of crime… including rape,” Alsheich noted.
“The Israel Police is at the forefront of action to enforce and prevent violence of any kind and the establishment of the bureau constitutes a quantum leap in leading a national effort of prevention and enforcement in connection with this phenomenon, a joint effort of all government bodies that touch this issue,” Alsheich said.
“From now on, Hotline 105 will serve as an address that will provide service and security to minors who have been injured on social media sites, and a great deal of emphasis will be placed on information and prevention,” the police chief continued. “This is one of the many coordinated responses of the Israel Police of crime wandering to cyber fields, but this is the most expensive, widespread and multilateral step, due to the sensitivity and vulnerability of minors, from new threats in the cyber world.”
The bureau will also implement prevention programs in schools and local authorities.
The new bureau said in a statement: “The activities of the National Bureau for the Protection of Children on the Internet, which launched today following a government’s decision from January 2016, intend to bring about criminal enforcement along with professional activity to reduce violence and crime online, to increase awareness of safe surfing and create a secure virtual environment, to increase deterrence against online crime and to increase reporting, public confidence and a sense of personal security.”
A music campaign has been launched simultaneously, which is aimed at raising awareness of the dangers children face on the Internet, with the participation of various Israeli artists.