On 9 June 2020, ahead of the consultation of the upcoming European Union strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, Ms. Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, and MEP Caterina Chinnici, Co-Chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights, hosted an event to discuss the measures needed at an EU level to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation.
This event, Preventing and Combating Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: Towards an EU Response, emphasized the importance of online safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has children spending more time online than ever before.
“The old warning ‘don’t talk to strangers’ has lost its power,” said Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson in the webinar. “In an online chat, strangers come disguised as teenagers. They know all the right words, all the right music and all the right Netflix shows.”
During the webinar, Dr Howard Taylor, the Executive Director of the End Violence Partnership, emphasised the importance of the new EU Digital Services Act for children’s safety online. The Digital Services Act will affect how individuals exercise their freedoms online in safe, protected ways, something that is critical to prevent and protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.
In parallel, Johansson provided assurances that children will be one of the key considerations in developing this new legislation.
“The new Digital Services Act provides a great opportunity for the EU to lead the way globally and influence other policymakers to consider similar legislation that will keep children safe,” said Dr Taylor.
Photo: Children in Timor Leste watch a movie on the computer. Photo by Soares for UNICEF.