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ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online

By Jessie Chiang
Fri 20 May 2022

ChildFund says its new global campaign WEB Safe & Wise is focused on protecting children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to benefit from digital connectivity.  

The charity says digital technology is changing childhoods, with around one in three internet users under 18.

It says the digital environment has increased their access to information and learning resources and expanded social and civic engagement opportunities. 

On the flip side, ChildFund says the rapid expansion in digital technologies exposes children to an increasing range of threats to their safety and wellbeing. 

It says more than 200,000 children go online for the first time every day, with 800 million actively using social media. At the same time, estimates indicate that 750,000 individuals are looking to connect online with children across the globe for sexual purposes at any one time.

ChildFund says in many countries, even if there are measures in place to protect against online child sexual exploitation and abuse, laws and policies are often insufficient and inconsistent. 

The not-for-profit organisation says WEB Safe & Wise, Creating a better digital world with children, is the first campaign launched as part of ChildFund Alliances FY22-25 Strategic Plan, Working Together to Address Emerging Threats to Children's Safety.

ChildFund says this new initiative will address the risks emerging in the digital environment while empowering children and young people to become effective digital citizens. 

ChildFund Alliance Secretary General Meg Gardinier says that all children have a right to be safe online.

"ChildFund members are committed to building an accessible, safe, and inclusive digital world that requires governments, public and private sectors, and families to take action," she says.

"We will work in partnership with children to create a better and safer digital world."

ChildFund New Zealand's CEO Mark Collins says the risks to children being online are growing every day.

"Online violence against tamariki knows no borders, whether they be living in Aotearoa or in the global communities where ChildFund works," he says.

"A key focus of ChildFund's mahi is child protection and safeguarding, and doing this in the virtual world is as important as it is in the physical world."

ChildFund says the new WEB Safe & Wise advocacy campaign focuses on two key outcomes: 

  1. Laws and policies to protect children from online child sexual exploitation and abuse are strengthened
  2. Children are effective digital citizens who are equipped to participate in online civic engagement safely, ethically, and responsibly

ChildFund says it has identified several global policies asks that are designed to improve protection and support digital skills development and citizenship. Throughout this initiative, it says it plans to work with government authorities, leaders in the tech industry and the broader digital community, and civil society.

The charity has also established a Child and Youth Advisory Council, comprising eight child delegates across ChildFund programs. It says they will develop a children's call to action for stakeholders, participate in advocacy activities at the national, regional and global levels, and share learnings about online safety and protection from abuse and exploitation with children and youth in their own communities.   

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