Urgent action needed to ensure a safe, inclusive and empowering digital environment for children
Geneva, 17 March 2023 – Speaking at a side event in the margins of the Human Rights Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Dr. Najat Maalla Mjid, stressed the urgent need to ensure a safe, inclusive and empowering digital environment for all children, leaving no one behind.
“The time to act is now. One in three internet users are children. They are connecting daily, in greater numbers and at younger ages. The risks of harm to children in the digital environment are emerging quickly and spreading rapidly. The impact of online violence on the dignity, mental health and development of children is both devastating and long-lasting. And we know that online crimes against children remain vastly under-reported and under-prosecuted,” said Dr. M’jid.
High-level Government representatives from France and the United Arab Emirates, UN senior officials, civil society, industry and children discussed ongoing action and necessary steps to close the digital gap and to make the digital environment safer for all children.
“France is fully committed to advancing the protection of children from violence online through stronger legislation, robust regulation and continuing innovation. The Child Protection Lab brings together diverse stakeholders to identify concrete solutions to the challenges posed by violence in the digital environment.” highlighted the representative from the French Government.
“Proactive and sustained prevention must be the priority including by the industry undertaking regular rights and violence impact assessments by design. Stronger laws, better regulation and capacity building are all essential. While some companies invest in making their services and platforms safe for children, others do not. Purely voluntary approaches are therefore insufficient,” stressed the Special Representative.
Internet can be certainly a source of protection and support for children, not just of risk and harm. For this reason, the Office of the Special Representative together with ITU have launched Protection through Online Participation (POP), an intersectoral and collaborative initiative aimed at better understanding how children and young people use digital platforms to be safer. This initiative has started to map child protection services online, with examples drawn from 118 countries.
Annual report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children: undocs.org/A/HRC/52/61
SRSG Presentation of the annual Report to the Human Rights Council live streaming
A safer digital environment for children: Now is the time to act!: Advocacy brief
POP: Protection through online Participation initiative
The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children is an independent global advocate for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children. Appointed by the Secretary-General in follow up to the UN Study on Violence against Children, she acts as a bridge-builder and a catalyst of actions in all regions and in all settings where violence may occur. The mandate of the SRSG on Violence against Children is anchored in human rights standards and promotes the universal ratification and effective implementation of core international conventions.
Read more: violenceagainstchildren.un.org
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For media inquiries, please contact:
Miguel Caldeira, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, New York. +1-917-367-6132 firstname.lastname@example.org