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Published 16.09.20

ITU 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection

Marlene Fasolt, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

ITU 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP)

During the Corona Crisis more children than ever have been going online and with that there has been an increase in the amount of online criminal offences directed at children, stated Dr. Najat Maalla M'jid on the official Facebook page of the United Nations Office on Violence Against Children. To work against that problem, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) launched its 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP), a set of recommendations for stakeholders on how to contribute to the development of a safe and empowering online environment for children and young people. It consists of four parts, each directed to the four different key audiences: children, parents and educators, industry and policymakers. Almost all Guidelines are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French and Russian.

The guidelines for children have been published in three different forms: a story book for children under nine, a workbook for children aged 9 to 11, and a social media campaign and microsite for children and young people aged 12 to 18 (only available in English). These aim to show children how to manage risks online and empower them to safely be able to use the opportunities that the internet offers.

The guidelines for parents and educators serve as a tool to protect and support children and young people using the internet and to make the families aware of the potential risks that their children face. The importance of having an open communication with your children and students and giving them the feeling that they can confide in you is strongly emphasized.

The guidelines for industry aim to support the industry in developing safer child online protection policies. They recommend integrating child rights considerations into all policies, developing standard processes to handle child sexual abuse material, creating a safer and age-appropriate online environment, educating children, carers and educators about children's safety, and portraying digital technologies as a way to increase civic engagement.

The guidelines for policymakers provide a base on which to develop inclusive strategies e.g. through open consultations and direct communication with children. This would lead to better targeted and more efficient measures. The guidelines recommend policies should build on internationals standards, like the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

These guidelines are a “very timely tool to safeguard the well-being, integrity, and safety of our children, our most precious gift," ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said in the press release of the 2020 Guidelines on COP and they should be taken into account when making any decisions that can concern a child’s wellbeing.

All the guidelines can be downloaded here.