ITU publishes 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection

On Tuesday, 23 June 2020, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) launched its new 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP), a set of recommendations for children, parents, educators, industry and policy makers on how to contribute to the development of a safe and empowering online environment for children and young people. 

Date 2020-06-24 Author BIK Team Section awareness, helplines, hotlines, industry, policy

Nowadays, digital technologies provide children and young people with a world of possibilities at their fingertips. No other generation before has ever enjoyed such a vast array of opportunities to discover the world, to learn, to exchange and to create. But growing up online also means being exposed to harmful content, contact and conduct.

In this new edition, the COP Guidelines have been comprehensively updated in order to take into account the most recent developments pertaining to children and young people's online safety, such as concerns related to the internet of things, connected toys, online gaming, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Moreover, the guidelines now address the online safety and well-being of children with special needs (in particular, children with special needs and/or with a migration background).

"The behaviour of offenders and criminal networks is constantly evolving, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, with offenders taking advantage of the new reality of many children being online far more than usual. It is therefore imperative that child protection systems evolve as fast or even faster," said Dr. Najat Maalla M'jid, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children. "A worldwide and cross-border problem requires a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral and child-rights centered approach that brings all key actors, including children, together to ensure a stronger and proactive child protection online."

The 2020 COP Guidelines consist of four parts, each tailored to a key audience segment – children; parents and educators; industry; and policymakers.

  • The guidelines for children are available in a child-friendly format and they consist of three resources: a story book for children under nine, a workbook for children aged 9 to 12, and a social media campaign and microsite for children and young people aged 12 to 18.
  • The guidelines for parents and educators offer guidance to parents and educators supporting children and young people's online lives. They aim to raise awareness of the potential online threats younger users can be vulnerable to, while at the same time encouraging adults to ensure their children have access to high quality, stimulating digital experiences.
  • The guidelines for industry seek to support industry members in developing their internal COP policies, highlighting key areas, such as integrating child rights considerations into all appropriate corporate policies and management processes; developing standard processes to handle child sexual abuse material (CSAM); creating a safer and age-appropriate online environment; educating children, carers and educators about children's safety and the responsible use of information and communication technologies (ICTs); and promoting digital citizenship.
  • The guidelines for policy makers are a set of recommendations towards the development of inclusive, multi-stakeholder national strategies. To multiply the efficiency of the measures taken, the guidelines advocate for open consultations and dialogues with children and young people.

The 2020 COP Guidelines have been co-authored by ITU and a working group of contributing authors from leading institutions active in the ICT sector, as well as in child (online) protection issues. The Insafe Coordinator chaired the working group on the guidelines for parents/carers and educators.

For more information, visit the COP Guidelines website and the website of the International Telecommunication Union.

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