COUNCIL OF EUROPE Safer Internet Day Supporter
Safer Internet Day: Empowering and protecting children on the Internet
As a Human Rights based organisation, the Council of Europe supports its 47 member States in improving the digital literacy and knowledge of the Internet by all European citizens, and in particular children who are today “hyper connected”. Children were born with the Internet which is central to their lives as it is an incredible tool to connect with their friends and run their social lives, to access information quickly, to express their views and opinions, to learn how to do things on their own, share their favourite music and images and even change the world if they have great ideas and good writing skills. The Internet is also a tool which can be used for children to spend quality time with their families, in particular their parents and carers and even their grandparents who are taught by today’s generation how to use new information and communication technologies to facilitate their daily lives.
The Council of Europe aims at supporting Internet users in becoming real digital citizens by informing them on their rights and responsibilities to ensure that they are equipped in protecting themselves from existing challenges to their rights and freedom online. The organisation even addresses very young children with its online game ‘Into the Wild Web Woods” and its accompanying Teachers’ Manual which were translated into 27 languages to help them understand the Internet and become wise users. More recently, the organisation has started to work on a compendium of existing human rights for Internet users to help them understand and exercise their rights when they communicate with and seek effective recourse from key Internet actors and governments agencies. Part of this work will deal specifically with the human rights of children in their capacity as Internet users.
Given, the particular vulnerability but hyper-connectivity of children and young people, who are more exposed to risks and violence online, the Council of Europe is committed to fighting violence online, and in particular sexual violence, to ensure that children can be safe, happy and well online. Sexual violence happens much more often than what people think. Research indicates that one child in five in Europe is thought to be a victim of sexual violence. In 70 to 85% of cases, children know their aggressors. In 90% of cases, sexual offences are not reported to the authorities. In recent years it has been reported that the Internet is being used more and more by adults who wish to contact children and sexually abuse them, and that online child pornography is also growing. The Council of Europe ONE in FIVE Campaign aims to raise awareness among children, parents, teachers and other people working with and for children, including particularly vulnerable children such as children in care and disabled children, about the scale of the problem and to provide them with the knowledge they need to prevent sexual abuse and to report it.
The measures promoted by the One in FIVE Campaign are contained in the Council of Europe Convention on the protection of children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. States signing up to this Convention commit themselves to criminalising the actions of adults who use the Internet in order to arrange a meeting and engage in sexual activity with a child (Article 23 of the Convention). The convention also criminalises all actions linked to child pornography, including the fact of knowingly accessing to on-line child pornography. The Convention also establishes its Committee of the Parties composed of Parties which have ratified the Convention and which recently started its work to evaluate the implementation of the Convention on a thematic basis, such as sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the circle of trust, exchange best practices and respond to highlighted challenges.
Safer Internet Day 2013
On the occasion of Universal Children’s Day 2012, the Council of Europe launched a television and web documentary “Keep me safe”. This documentary illustrates good practices taking place in different member states through prevention, education and protection of victims, and through promoting child-friendly justice.
For SID 2013 the Council of Europe is organising in Strasbourg a meeting with 90 students of the Lycée Pontonniers to discuss with them how to use the Internet safely, taking into account its great advantages for communicating, learning and becoming autonomous, but also the risks.
The session aims to make these students aware of their rights to freedom of expression (in general but also referring to sexuality), access to information, private life and citizen participation. The students will also learn about the limits to these rights, including the respect to other individuals´ physical and mental integrity, the protection of the reputation of others and of copyright.
Watch the video teaser here.
Three members of the staff of the Council of Europe - Stephanie Burel, Lee Hibbard and Sophie Kwasny, working in the fields of children´s rights, Internet governance and privacy, respectively- will address the students and answer their questions.
Watch the Safer Internet Day 2013 interview with Regina Jensdottir CoE here.