EVERY HALF A SECOND, A CHILD GOES ONLINE FOR THE FIRST TIME.
WHILE THIS BRINGS A HOST OF OPPORTUNITIES, IT CAN ALSO BRING SERIOUS RISKS.
Online child sexual exploitation and abuse is the fastest growing form of violence against children.
As the internet’s reach expands, more children, and at an increasingly younger age, start to grow-up in a digital world. As their digital experiences increase, so do the threats and dangers they experience online. This includes online harassment and violence, exposure to harmful online content and concerns around unethical use of their digital data.
The most critical threat to children, however, is the alarming growth in online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA); and creation and sharing of child sexual abuse images and videos (CSAM).
- Invest in strengthening systems, building capacities and innovative technology solutions to tackle online harms to children.
- Generate new knowledge and evidence on what works and convene and connect organisations across sectors to strengthen collaborative efforts; convene; and work with governments, public and key actors.
- Raise awareness and advocate with governments, industry and other key stakeholders to prioritise online child safety in their policies, budgets and business practices
Safe Online is working towards creating a safe internet for children. One of the ways in which we do this is by investing in programmes that work.
Safe Online is providing funding in three areas to accelerate solutions:
- Setting the foundations for strong systems: Our investments help to build foundations for a safe internet across the globe in line with the Model National Response and other key relevant frameworks addressing digital harms to children. Additionally, we help to strengthen systems by focusing on strong regulatory and policy frameworks; build key pieces of infrastructure and capacities for a more coordinated and effective prevention and response across sectors; and promote safe online habits and digital literacy.
- Research and evaluation: Another focus area is building solid evidence to guide our work and the work of our grantees. We do this in many ways including a large-scale research project (Disrupting Harm), across 13 countries, to understand how digital technology facilitates the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Safe Online has also partnered with the Technology Coalition to fund research that will advance understanding of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. Read more about it here: Technology Coalition Research Fund awards.
- Technology-based solutions: A critical investment area supports leveraging cutting-edge technology for prevention and response. Safe Online is designing new and scaling-up existing technology-based solutions. Grantees are leveraging tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science to enhance detection and response to online CSEA.
In addition to the investment areas, Safe Online collaborates with other funders including the UNICEF Innovation Fund to promote development of open-source tools that can make digital environments safe for children and adolescents. See here the latest investments made in Sri Lanka and Brazil.
The Safe Online network provides grantees and partners a collaborative space to share knowledge, evidence and good practices. The Safe Online Grantee Convening in 2019 was key in strengthening collaboration, learning and creating new partnership opportunities. The next grantee convening event will be held in May 2021 building on the learnings and success of the first round.
In early 2019, the End Violence Partnership invested $7 million to develop Disrupting Harm, a holistic and innovative research project that aims to better understand how digital technology facilitates the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
The Partnership brought together and funded three global organisations – ECPAT International, INTERPOL and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti – to undertake new research in 13 countries across Eastern and Southern Africa and Southeast Asia. This type of high-quality research and assessment is new and unique in that it uses a multi-sector approach and the specific expertise of these three global agencies and their local partners.
End Violence and the Technology Coalition initiated the Tech Coalition Safe Online Research Fund in 2020 to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA). This collaboration is part of the Technology Coalition’s Project Protect. Project Protect seeks to prevent and eradicate online CSEA through technology innovation, collective action, research, knowledge sharing, and increased accountability. This fund is an essential part of that process, supporting actionable research that will lead to real, lasting change for children’s digital safety.
Five winners were selected as the first recipients and awarded grants of between $20,000 and $250,00 for research that aimed to expand knowledge of online CSEA and explore the most effective measures for preventing it.
End Violence will support the Tech Coalition Safe Online Research Fund while building on five years of work in the Safe Online space.
Does your project fit these criteria? Learn more about how you can apply.
Safe Online doesn't just provide financial support to our grantees – we build collaborative networks of partners across sectors and lead on efforts to ensure child online safety is at the heart of key policy debates at national, regional and global level.
We facilitate knowledge exchange, networks and technical assistance within the Safe Online portfolio of grantees but also with the wider ecosystem. This includes investing in resources, skills and opportunities to strengthen the grantees’ capacity and to promote a culture of learning that values collaboration, as well as support the capacity for long term sustainability of interventions.
We advocate, coordinate and convene global and regional partners, including industry, around key advocacy and policy issues related to children’s safety online to leverage joint voices and action to end online CSEA. This includes connecting the Safe Online work with broader initiatives around connectivity and digital development, as well as actively contributing to global policy discussions with governments, tech industry, regulators, and others, ensuring that the safety of children is at the heart of intersections between connectivity and safety; privacy and protection; and technology and human rights. Our advocacy resulted in key successes including: In 2021, G7 governments announced a set of ground-breaking commitments to combat online CSEA and highlighted End Violence as key partner to help make the internet safe for children. In a historic move, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) adopted General Comment No. 25, marking the first instance of including the digital rights of children in its framework. Also, in 2020, the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation included a specific call-out on the need to tackle online CSEA for the first time. See more advocacy and knowledge management work here
Key highlights of advocacy and knowledge work:
Grantee convening: Safe Online held its first grantee convening from 8-10 December 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The grantee convening provided a platform for organisations across the world to come together, share their resources and experiences, and strengthen the field of child online safety. Nearly 50 individuals attended the convening, representing 38 grantee organisations from 33 projects. To learn more about the grantee convening, watch the videos and read the recap report, which highlights the learnings, solutions and challenges brought to light over the course of the event.
The next Safe Online Grantee and Donor Convening event will be held on 30-31st May 2022 and bring together nearly 50 grantees from across the world.
Online webinar series: Since the Fund's inception, we have held digital events for grantees to learn from each other from wherever they are across the globe. In July 2021, Safe Online held its 12th knowledge exchange event, which focused on the latest data and trends on online CSEA in the context of the pandemic. Earlier webinar series may be found below:
- Child Sexual Abuse Material specialized services: understanding the global ecosystem to detect, refer and remove CSAM (March 2020)
- Child Safeguarding in the Digital World (April 2020)
- Integrated, child-centred frameworks for investigation, rehabilitation and recovery for survivors of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. (June 2020)
Safe Online Policy Call: As part of Together to #ENDviolence, experts from across the End Violence community came together to prepare a prioritized set of policy proposals to end violence against children. The result is six game-changing policy proposals, backed by evidence and research on what works to protect children. Read the policy proposal on Making the Internet Safe for Children.
Campaigns: Every year we engage global communities to celebrate Safer Internet Day through our media platforms to raise awareness, share resources and encourage everyone to take action to keep children safe online. We continue to facilitate joint advocacy efforts, for instance, on the new EU regulations on privacy affecting the safety of children online.
COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented rise in screen time. More and more families are relying on technology and digital solutions to keep children learning, entertained and connected to the outside world, but not all children have the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to keep themselves safe online. End Violence together with our key partners launched a technical note and a resource pack to support governments, ICT industries, educators and parents. See more here (include these, and these resources on page).
Key Partners: Safe Online cannot do this work alone. In addition to our Safe Online grantees, we work in close collaboration with our network of partners, which include: