What does ‘safer’ look like?

The Broadband Commission looks at how we can minimize the risk of violence, abuse and exploitation of children online

Posted in: Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse , Uncategorised

“Protecting children is not only our moral obligation but it’s also good business to support their healthy and happy development.” Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

The Broadband Commission’s report on Child Online Safety comes at a time when the scale of online child sexual exploitation and abuse is unprecedented and a large-scale, collective response more urgently needed than ever. In the Foreword to the report, Dr Joanna Rubinstein (President & CEO of the World Childhood Foundation USA) and Scott Gegenheimer (CEO of Zain Group) introduce the Broadband Commissions Working Group on Child Online Safety – comprised of 22 commissioners from UN agencies and a range of public and private organizations – and set the scene for the challenge we face…

“The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all the world’s nations in 2015 – and the legally binding 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 our next generation, to keeping them healthy, to providing them with access to education, entertainment and skills to ensure their future employability; and to protecting them from any form of violence, neglect, or torture. To give them a future.

Protecting children is not only our moral obligation but it’s also good business to support their healthy and happy development. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that we provide a path towards a sustainable future for all. For that to happen, adults — parents, caregivers, teachers, legislators, the private sector and other stakeholders — must ensure that children can fulfil their potential.

To make this commitment a reality, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development created a cross-sector working group (WG) dedicated to addressing child online safety as a global issue. It consisted of senior representatives from UN agencies and a range of public and private organizations.
The WG was tasked with creating a report that would bring together the available evidence on the scale and nature of the risks and harms children face online and provide actionable recommendations for the prioritization of children’s online safety.

Broadband connectivity is a key enabler for children’s future. It helps to fuel the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals and to ensure 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. They are becoming the 5G and ultimately the 4th industrial revolution-ready generation, with Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) changing the way we live and work.

“For children to be as safe as they can possibly be online, they must be able to depend on the companies that provide the services they use to practice active child protection.”

Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

Many adults think about the Internet in a very instrumental way, as something they go to or use from time to time to accomplish specific things. Children don’t. For vast numbers, the Internet and its associated technologies are completely integrated into the way they live their lives across a very broad spectrum of activities. It is at once both part of and an extension of their lives: the most important way in which they communicate or engage with homework, friends, school, their favorite bands and sports clubs, even family members.

Recognizing this, the Broadband Commission’s goal is to make connectivity a universal right and ensure that all children will have access to the Internet and the benefits it can bring them. How does that translate into numbers? Already today children represent one third of all Internet users. While benefiting tremendously from connectivity for their education and entertainment, they are also exposed to major risks and threats online, including different forms of violence and exploitation, such as child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA), bullying, radicalization, and more.

The challenges in tackling the dark side of connectivity are mounting. Unless we act now, the online exploitation of children could scale to even more appalling levels as we expand broadband into developing countries where most children live today. Often, in these newly digitized territories, educational and law enforcement infrastructures will have difficulty keeping up with sophisticated and determined criminals misusing digital platforms and services. Making a unified global approach more important and more urgent than ever.

This report aims to increase the prioritization of child online safety among all the key stakeholders and decision-makers from governments, the private sector, civil society, NGOs, and academia. Its recommendations are actionable and represent a call to collective action. They are based on the knowledge and expertise of major expert groups that have a long-standing commitment and experience in fighting various forms of violence against children online.

The fact that 22 commissioners joined the Working Group is testament to the commitment of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development to prioritize children in our common agendas.

We are grateful to all the members of the Working Group, the commissioners and the more than 20 experts for their participation in the development of this report and its recommendations. We hope they will help catalyze further actions in urgently addressing child online safety.

We know that it takes a village to keep children safe both online and offline. Therefore, we count on all the stakeholders to prioritize children and to collaborate and generate collective actions to prevent and address all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation of children online.

Children’s journey through the digital world and their safety in the real world, we are all building, is everyone’s business.

Thank you,

Scott Gegenheimer, CEO of Zain Group | Dr. Joanna Rubinstein, President & CEO of the World Childhood Foundation USA”