Childhood USA hosts high–level meeting on child safety online at the UN

On October 1 2018, Childhood USA, together with the Swedish Mission to the United Nations and in collaboration with ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, hosted a high-level meeting on hild safety online at the UN. At the same meeting, the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development Report on Child Safety online will be launched.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary – represent the global commitment to a better future for all, especially to children. To make this commitment a reality, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development established a working group dedicated to addressing child safety online as a global issue. Whereas broadband connectivity brings many benefits to children, including access to education and entertainment, it also has a dark side to it as it exposes children to major risks and threats online as well as different forms of violence and exploitation, such as child sexual exploitation and abuse, bullying, radicalization etc.

Recommendations for how to prioritize children´s online safety

The new report gathers the available evidence on the scale and nature of the risks and harms children face online and provides actionable recommendations for how to prioritize children’s online safety. Broadband connectivity is helping fuel the achievement of all of the SDGs and ensuring that all children have an equal opportunity to thrive, so that no child is left behind.

The internet has already transformed our lives at an unprecedented pace and scale. For children in developed countries, the digital world is the one they are born into and live within every single day. The Internet and its associated technologies are completely integrated into the way they live their lives across a very broad spectrum of activities. This is still not the case in the large parts of the developing world where the majority of children live with no access to connectivity. With the rapid expansion of broadband, it is going to change very soon, which also means that the online violence against children could scale to even more horrifying levels unless we act now.

Colllective actions needed to keep children safe

It takes a village to keep children safe both online and offline. Therefore, all the stakeholders need to prioritize children, collaborate and generate collective actions to prevent and address all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation of children online. Governments, academia, civil society and the private sector must invest in and accelerate the development of scalable solutions to address abuse and exploitation of children online. Achieving the SDGs for children by 2030 requires innovation and collective action.

The welcoming and introductory remarks will be given by Olof Skoog, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN, Dr. Joanna Rubinstein, President & CEO, Childhood USA and Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain Group.

Childhood´s founder, Queen Silvia of Sweden, is one of three key note speakers. The keynote addresses will be followed by the presentation of the report and a panel discussion on the major threats and opportunities for children in the digital world and what collective actions are needed to improve child online safety. Panel participiants are, among others, Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence Against Children, Dr. Howard Taylor, Executive Director, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, Anna Borgström, CEO, NetClean, Hans Vestberg, CEO & Chairman, Verizon Communication and Dr. Christoffer Rahm, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.

Text: Childhood USA, photo: Susanne Drakborg