Let’s build non-violent childhoods together

Today we are happy to inform that the National Non-Violent Childhoods Action Plan for the prevention of violence against children for 2020-2025 is available in English. As we have written chapter 11 covering online sexual harassment, grooming and sexual violence, we’d like to pinpoint some of the actions and how our, The Protect Children’s daily efforts towards common goals is operated.

Preventing sexual harassment, grooming and sexual violence against children requires systematic multidisciplinary work over the long term and a multilateral approach is needed. We enhance the national as well as international collaboration between relevant stakeholders and offer our expertise to organizations willing to advance the rights of the child. Although sexual violence against children is not a new phenomenon, it is constantly taking new forms as technology continues to evolve, which therefore requires efforts from governments, companies and civil society on a regular basis.

As we know, because of shame and fear, children and young people rarely report to adults about sexual violence that they have experienced. This imposes a special obligation on adults to address the phenomenon and to encourage the child to report all forms of sexual violence. Adults should provide information, support and instruct children to act safely online the same way we teach children traffic safety.  The Protect Children has already made successful awareness raising campaigns reaching over 4 million people nationally and internationally this year alone (#TurvallisestiNetissä #OnlineSafety with EC3 Europol.) Our vision is that by continuing to promote online safety and the rights of the child, we enhance the safety of children one step at a time.

In addition to providing children and young people valid information and guidance, it is the responsibility of adults to build online environments that are safe and to enable the usage of best technology in order to detect and delete illegal and harmful content as well as creating innovative preventative measures. The practices to remove illegal child sexual abuse images must be based on strong international cooperation, and the time and efficiency of removing CSAM from the internet needs to be continuously evaluated. The Protect Children works in the global network Project Arachnid by The Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Project Arachnid. The Protect Children has analyzed more than 200 000 single images and videos of CSAM in the past 10 months. As we have promoted, The Protect Children’s innovative #ReDirection-project to prevent the search, use and distribution of CSAM funded by End Violence is a significant step forward in the prevention of the usage of CSAM.

All children and young people within the age range for basic education have the right and need to receive training in their safety skills in digital media. We do believe that combining sexual education, media literacy and digital safety skill training modules is effective and much needed. The Protect Children will provide further training and materials for professionals and caregivers to educate and support children to be safe online. In the coming years 2021 – 2022 we will train authorities, social and healthcare professionals and especially early education teachers as children have the right to learn about digital safety as early as they start using digital devices. The Protect Children advances the Pan-Nordic collaboration and the sharing of best practices. Our goal is to share expertise and to learn from each other both locally and globally.

The Protect Children continues to advocate and work together for a better and safer internet. The Protect Children has given statements and signed joint statements in order to advocate the rights of the child in all environments. Our latest and topical one is on the EU regulation. As Professor Sonia Livingstone said, we need to listen to children about their experiences online. We must start teaching digital skills earlier and there is a clear need for stronger regulation and separation of spaces children and adults use online.

Action plan available here:

https://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/162554/STM_2020_34_J.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen, Executive Director (co-author of the chapter 11, member of the steering group)

Hanna-Leena Laitinen, Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy (co-author of the chapter 11, member of the steering group)