Monday, 7th of March 2016, the 31st Session of the United Nations Human Right Council (UNHRC) convened in Geneva for their Annual Full Day Meeting on the Rights of the Child; this year focusing on information and communications technologies (ICTs) and child sexual exploitation.
ICTs, which include the internet as well as new/social media, are becoming an ever increasing part of children’s daily lives, being used not only for education, but for entertainment and social interaction as well. With this increased online presence, children are also exposed to increased risks and dangers, such as exposure to violent images, abusive material, bullying and harassment, sexual solicitation or online grooming, and sexual exploitation. Thus, the meeting was an opportunity to discuss how best to maintain a balance between protecting children and empowering them with the benefits available through ICTs.
In the course of two panel discussions, representatives met to deepen international understanding of the role that ICTs have both in providing children access to digital media and information and in exposing children to harm. This effort included the exchange of good practices, the development of strategies and safeguards to provide children safe and equal access to the internet, and exploring recommendations on the prevention and criminalisation of online abuse and exploitation.
The first panel focused on the development of an international framework and what challenges such a framework faces. Other topics addressed in this panel were the new forms of child exploitation presented by ICTs and the importance of public-private partnerships in combatting exploitation. The second panel addressed how to combat and prevent child sexual exploitation through ICTs. This panel included discussion of prevention programmes developed by UNICEF, the profiles of perpetrators of exploitation, the role of public entities (such as law enforcement agencies) and private entities (such as Google, Inc.), and perspectives on good practices in Latin America in the use of ICTs for prevention of exploitation and empowerment of children.
Through these discussions, the United Nations Human Right Council aims to further integrate informed, expert knowledge and recommendations on the use of information and communication technologies, while protecting the rights of the child, into the United Nations agenda.
“Hope For Children” UNCRC Policy Center considers child sexual exploitation a serious offense. The Director-General of “Hope For Children” UNCRC Policy Center, Mr. Joseph Varughese highlighted the need to support efforts to protect children from online sexual exploitation, which poses a serious challenge to countries all over the world.