Child Online Safety Toolkit

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5. Ensuring effectiveness: States parties should mobilise, allocate and utilise public resources to implement legislation, policies and programmes to fully realise children’s rights in the digital environment and to improve digital inclusion, which is needed to address the increasing impact of the digital environment on children’s lives and to promote the equality of access to, and affordability of, services and connectivity. States parties should ensure that the mandates of national human rights institutions and other appropriate independent institutions cover children’s rights in the digital environment and that they are able to receive, investigate and address complaints from children and their representatives. Where independent oversight bodies exist to monitor activities in relation to the digital environment, national human rights institutions should work closely with such bodies on effectively discharging their mandate regarding children’s rights. Source: General comment No. 25 (2021), paras 28 and 3170

Child online safety and children’s rights in the digital environment can only be truly effective through practical policy actions, adequate resourcing, and enforcement. Child online safety is relevant to a wide range of policy areas, including information and communications technology (ICT), education, criminal justice, health, regulation of industry, social and family support, business, human rights and equality, international development, and many others. Cooperation across different ministries and agencies working in policy areas is thus essential for effective action on child online safety. Budgeting in order to resource the policy both within and across different departments will be necessary. A policy with insufficient funds, or a partnership with no capacity, i.e. something which exists only on paper, will not result in effective child online protection. Understanding effectiveness means reviewing the impact of child online safety policies. Monitoring, evaluation and data collection are key to informing good policy development. Learning from and sharing lessons on effective policy making across borders is an efficient way to maximise effectiveness. Checking the effectiveness of child online safety policy requires consultation not only with the key actors involved, but also with children, to understand how actions are affecting them or could impact on them in the future.71 It is an ongoing process. Policy should be data-driven and evidence-based. Both relevant authorities and private companies should be required to collect and share data to aid understanding of child online protection issues, in compliance with data protection laws and principles. Child online safety is a relatively new policy area, so where evidence is not available or contested, policy-makers should take a precautionary approach, or look to other contexts and take a ‘what works’ approach – for example, with health and safety principles, or frameworks such as INSPIRE: Seven Strategies for Ending Violence Against Children.72 Child online safety is not a standalone issue. The effectiveness of child online safety policy will depend on the overall effectiveness of key institutions and their ability to collaborate towards effective protection. Ensuring effective accountability for child online safety overall, and the prevention of CSEA in particular, relies on strong domestic justice systems. The Model National Response (MNR) presents guidance on this issue. Effective approaches to child online safety also rely on adequate resourcing for the institutions that support them, including in areas such as psycho-social support, and regulation in ICT and related fields. Upholding children’s rights effectively through child online safety policy depends on efficient human rights legislation and specific legislation and regulation with oversight bodies to guarantee children’s rights in both the online and the offline environment.

70. General comment No. 25 (2021) on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, UNCRC, 2021. 71. Digital Futures Commission, 5Rights Foundation, 2021. 72. INSPIRE Indicator Guidance and Results Framework, World Health Organisation, 2018.