Everyone has a Role to Play in Creating a Safer Internet for Children
Tuesday, 7 February marks the 13th Safer Internet Day. End Violence will join organisations from more than 100 countries in supporting a call for action to make sure children can take part in online activities free from the dangers of exploitation and online bullying. A veritable explosion in access to cheap computers and mobile devices around the world is giving online access to an ever growing number of people. As a tool for learning and accessing public discourse and media, the importance of the internet cannot be overstated. Online access is increasingly being recognised as a human right – an essential part of social participation in an increasingly connected world. There is little secret though, that access to the internet can also come with dangers — especially for children and young people. Given its importance, that access isn’t something that should simply be taken away from children until they are old enough to fend for themselves online - parents, educators and policymakers all have a responsibility to ensure children have safe access to the internet, protecting them both from online predators and from the harm of online bullying by their peers. Preventing and Tackling Online ExploitationThe WeProtect Global Alliance to End Child Sexual Exploitation Online is a valued End Violence partner mobilising those with a commitment to and the responsibility for protecting children from online sexual exploitation, no matter where they live in the world. In November, 2016 WeProtect published a Model National Response to provide governments and other stakeholders with a framework for building their own response apparatus for preventing and tackling online sexual exploitation of children. Rather than prescribing a single approach to the issue, the document’s purpose is to describe the capabilities needed for effective child protection, highlight good practice from countries that are already delivering these capabilities, and signpost organisations that can provide further guidance and support to countries seeking to develop or enhance their existing capability. The Model National Response covers areas from legislation and law enforcement, to victim support services and education, as well as encouraging support and innovation from private sector leaders in the field of online technologies. Proper use of the model will help countries to identify actions that contribute to the delivery of child-focused Sustainable Development Goal targets, such as 16.2 - end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children. Addressing CyberbullyingIn addition to making it easier for friends and family to keep in touch, social media has allowed bullying by peers to follow many children home from school. As many as 1 in 4 children and adolescents report that they have been bullied online, and far more report seeing it happen. In October of last year, Marta Santos Pais, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Violence Against Children, released a new global report on how we can respond to and prevent bullying both online and in person. Ending the Torment: tackling bullying from the schoolyard to cyberspace brings together the latest global data on the prevalence of the issue around the world, the factors that drive bullying, and interventions being proven to prevent it. The report lays out a roadmap for policymakers to understand the issue and to take real steps in addressing it - from awareness raising and empowering children to report their experiences, to examples of public policies and school interventions.