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Published 24.11.23

COSPRA2023: Protecting children together

Torsten Krause, SDC, SDC

This year's COSPRA Summit of the Ndukwe Kalu Foundation took place on 23 November in Abuja, Nigeria. The abbreviation COSPRA stands for Child Online Safety, Protection and Reporting of Abuse, making it clear that the safety and protection of children online and the reporting of abuse and violence were at the centre of the conference. As part of the plenary session "Multi Stakeholder Responsibilities in Online Safety", we reported on the experiences of the kinderrechte.digital project and, with reference to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's General Comment No. 25 on the rights of the child in the digital environment, pointed out that, despite the need to protect young people online, it must not be forgotten that they also have the right to participate. This means that the aim cannot be to exclude children from content and services that could potentially be harmful to them, but rather to ensure in a community of responsibility that children and young people can navigate the internet and digital environments safely.

This shared responsibility includes parents and civil society as well as the state and the providers themselves. They can all play their part in ensuring that young people can have positive experiences online and are protected from risks. In addition to adequate information and education about potential risks and how these can be countered, it is also important to develop a basic understanding of the digital space in order to be able to utilise it in a media literate manner. However, service providers can also make a significant contribution to ensuring that children are safe online through the design of their services, e.g. by using them anonymously or preventing them from being contacted by strangers. If an unpleasant situation or illegal offence does occur, help and reporting mechanisms must be available to advise children and young people on the one hand and to initiate prosecution processes if necessary on the other.