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Kuwait demands parents stop exploiting children on social media
December 11, 2018, 9:01 pm

Kuwait's public prosecution on Monday released a set of guidelines that protect children till the age of 13 from being exploited on social media for commercial purposes. The law also prevents children from being featured in advertisements and promotion campaigns on social media for monetary gains, but permits ‘positive’ publicity that highlights social services, and positive characteristics and values.

In line with the law, the parents and guardians of child celebrities on social media in Kuwait have been issued a warning to halt their profiteering off their children’s fame within a week or they could be penalized with a prison time of up to seven years.

The juvenile police said they combed through social media accounts based in Kuwait, and picked 30 accounts that regularly posted clips of children. They investigated and found that 18 were not in compliance with rules and regulations of the child protection law. Subsequently, the account owners were summoned by the police and were advised to adhere to the new law that protects children from being exploited to earn money and fame.  The offenders signed pledges to shut down the accounts or to delete images of the children, and agreed to not repeat any of the offenses transcribed in the Children's Law.

The police warned them that failure to comply with the letter of the law would see them referred to courts on the charge of commercial exploitation of children.

There are quite a few cases of online celebrities touting their children’s images in order to garner views and generate positive social media buzz. For instance, a social media influencer called Dr. kholod, runs an account titled ‘Baby Kholod’ with regular posts about her daughter. The child’s name is used to sell all kinds of advertisements, from beauty products  to commercial advertisements.

Another account brandishes a young girl called Alzain Borashed as a ‘Little Fashionista, who is not more than 10 years old. It has more than 87 thousand followers and is run by her mother, who has posted a phone number open to advertisers and sponsors for business opportunities.

Similarly, Zainah Alsafar, a mere child, has 240 thousand followers in her account, which is managed by a relative. In her bio she is described as a model, and her posts show the young girl dancing, or modeling clothes and accessories.

To combat what many see as child exploitation, the prosecution stressed that the new law bans images and videos of children wearing accessories, putting on makeup, dancing or uttering obscene words. As, he explained that it violated public morals, principles and values.

Kuwait's Supreme National Committee for Child Protection (SNCCP) drafted the guidelines in cooperation with the juvenile prosecution, which stipulate that no child under 13 is allowed near social media . The guidelines also prohibit the posting of pictures of children in a crude manner that constitutes an invasion of privacy or an intrusion into their personal lives.

The law also stated that children may not be subjected to mental abuse of any work or action that undermines their dignity or humiliates them, such as publishing funny and embarrassing pictures, ridiculing or making fun of children or posting pictures or clips that offend them religiously, ethically, morally or socially.

Kuwait has been spearheading programs and rules to protect children as they are considered among the most vulnerable and easily influenced section of the society.

Moreover, the news highlights that many youngsters are going astray due to improper discipline, the juvenile prosecution announced in a report last month that 1,880 crimes were committed by 2,071 juveniles last year and that 79 percent of the perpetrators were between the ages of 15 and 18.

Reports show that the rate of crimes by this age group has increased in the past five years by 250 percent, with the most increase seen in traffic crimes, followed by drugs and liquor cases.

According to the report published by Al Jarida, a local daily, 83 percent of convicted juveniles belonged to affluent families, while nine per cent committed their crimes to emulate negative aspects of popular social media figures.

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