Building on a succession of Safer Internet programmes, Better Internet for Kids (BIK) is a European Commission-funded initiative aiming to create a better internet for Europe's children and youth. BIK is managed on behalf of the European Commission by European Schoolnet (EUN), which coordinates the Insafe network of awareness centres, helplines and youth panels, in partnership with INHOPE (the International Association of Internet Hotlines), dedicated to the removal of illegal online content. These combined strands are commonly referred to as Safer Internet Centres (SICs), operating in Member States, Iceland and Norway in the drive to keep children and young people safe online.
Over the last decade or so, a range of organisations and consortia across the world have replicated or been inspired by the European Safer Internet Centre model. While several of these initiatives have already been acknowledged as Safer Internet Day (SID) Committees (coordinating the annual celebration of a safer and better internet each February), there has been a growing desire – and demand – to share the model and expertise further. As such, a SIC+ programme has been launched.
In brief, extending or replicating the Safer Internet Centre model beyond Europe presents an opportunity to:
- Foster knowledge sharing and capacity building on successful initiatives on online safety for children and young people, at regional and/or global level.
- Promote the development and implementation of innovative actions to increase the participation of third-country organisations in online safety initiatives and best practices, in particular education programmes and awareness-raising campaigns, as well as helpline and hotline services, while identifying possible areas for exchange and mutual learning.
- Address common challenges in the field of online safety for children and young people by promoting cooperation with the current Insafe-INHOPE network, aiming for a closer integration of these initiatives in global actions.
Launched in early 2020, this pilot phase of the SIC+ programme will take the form of a bursary scheme, offering funding to a number of organisations from neighbouring and/or third countries to take part in European safer and better internet activities, complemented by a range of online capacity building and exchange opportunities. Equally, further synergies will be sought with existing global cooperation schemes and initiatives in the field of child online protection, such as the WePROTECT Global Alliance and Global Kids Online.
More concretely, those organisations taking part in the SIC+ programme are expected to:
- Actively take part in a one-year online capacity-building programme (throughout 2020), covering the various strands of SIC work. This will include participation in at least four online webinars, tackling topics pertinent to the awareness, helpline, hotline and youth participation lines of work. Participants will have the opportunity to share good practice examples and challenges with other SIC and SIC+ organisations.
- Attend the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2020, along with a focus group meeting on global exchange mechanisms for the provision of online safety education, helpline and hotline services (subject to COVID-19 restrictions).
- Actively support Safer Internet Day (SID) 2021 in their respective countries.
- Report on opportunities and challenges arising from participation in the SIC+ programme to help inform any future developments.
Participating countries in this first phase are:
- Armenia (Safer Internet Armenia/Media Education Centre)
- Bolivia (Fundación REDES)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (International Forum of Solidarity – EMMAUS (IFS- EMMAUS))
- Brazil (SaferNet)
- Colombia (Te Protejo)
- Mexico (Fundacion Pas)
- Serbia (Tijana Juric Foundation)
- Ukraine (Better Internet Centre).
The cohort met online for the first webinar in the series in May 2020 when, aside from introducing their organisations and their aspirations for the project, they also heard some expert insights on children's rights, opportunities and risks from the Global Kids Online project.
We'll bring you further news on this initiative as it progresses throughout the course of the year, along with further insights into the work of the programme participants.