Child Online Safety Toolkit

Page 28






Children are not a homogeneous group. Child online safety policies must be accessible and inclusive to reach all children, whoever and wherever they are. A “digital divide” is very likely to arise where some children have easy access to the online space, while others are effectively excluded. Frameworks need to be ageappropriate and work for all children regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, disability or any other characteristics. Language should be accessible and inclusive and, where needed, materials should be available in a range of different languages. Child online safety materials should be developed in consultation with children and parents/carers: at a minimum, they should be age-appropriate, gender-neutral and easily accessible to children of different ages and their parents/carers. Where literacy is limited, visual materials will often get messages across much more effectively. Using consistent terms across platforms helps to make child online safety more easily understandable and accessible for children and their families and carers.47 Policy-makers must ensure they are promoting access for children online and including them in their journey in making digital environments safe. Adults and children are exposed to a range of risks and dangers online. Nonetheless, children are a much more vulnerable population. Some children are also more vulnerable than other groups of children, for instance children with disabilities or children on the move. Policy makers need to guarantee that all children can develop and be educated in a safe digital environment. The idea that children are vulnerable and should be protected from all forms of exploitation is outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Source: ITU Guidelines for policy-makers on Child Online Protection 202048

3. Building a chain of responsibility: To encompass the cross-cutting consequences of the digital environment for children’s rights, States parties should identify a government body that is mandated to coordinate policies, guidelines and programmes relating to children’s rights among central government departments and the various levels of government. Such a national coordination mechanism should engage with schools and the information and communications technology sector and cooperate with businesses, civil society, academia and organizations to realise children’s rights in relation to the digital environment at the cross-sectoral, national, regional and local levels. It should draw on technological and other relevant expertise within and beyond government, as needed, and be independently evaluated for its effectiveness in meeting its obligations. Source: General comment No. 25 (2021), para 2749

The responsibility for child online safety involves many people, specialisms and organisations – including government, law enforcement, business, educators, psycho-social support, families, and children. Some links in the chain bear a greater weight of responsibility.50 For example, a service that is likely to be accessed by or impact on children should consider if any of its features pose a risk to children. They should do this before engaging with any child users. This is often referred to as ‘safety by design’, or ‘child-centred design’. Safety by default should be the norm.

47. 48. 49. 50.

See introduction on the importance of language and definitions and glossary section. Guidelines for policy-makers on Child Online Protection, International Telecommunication Union, 2020. General comment No. 25 (2021) on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, UNCRC, 2021. See for example the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.