Towards more inclusive youth participation activities: Insafe delegation presents best practices at IGF 2023

At the 18th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Kyoto, Japan from 8-12 October 2023, the European network of Safer Internet Centres (SIC) contributed with a workshop on Day 0, titled Youth participation: co-creating the Insafe network. In the second part of the workshop, organised by the Insafe Coordinator in collaboration with the Belgian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese and UK Safer Internet Centres, a special focus was given to empowering of young people and the inclusion of children and young people in vulnerable situations.

Date 2023-10-12 Author BIK Team Section , awareness, news, youth Topic media literacy/education Audience media specialist, organisations and industry, research, policy and decision makers, teachers, educators and professionals
People sitting in a  room conference

Best practices from the Insafe network

The UK Safer Internet Centre collaborated in research which concluded that people and children with disabilities are three to seven times more likely to experience some form of online abuse. Recommendations include creating safe and inclusive spaces that recognise differences but implement person-first safety solutions.

The Portuguese Safer Internet Centre was one of the pioneers in developing accessible resources by default. The resources include a series of ten Portuguese episodes with audio descriptions, Portuguese sign language and English subtitles. To create the video, they conducted a focus group with actors and children to discuss the relevant online safety topics and script language to make it child-friendly. As part of the awareness sessions, the video was distributed to most schools in Portugal.

The Maltese Safer Internet Centre, coordinated by the Foundation for Social Welfare Services, works extensively with children in care. Over the years, the centre has realised that children growing up in disadvantaged social situations, such as poverty, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, and mental health problems within the family, can become more vulnerable online. This vulnerability arises as they seek to replace what's missing in their home with online connections. Regular sessions are conducted with children in foster care and residential care homes to empower them and raise awareness of risky online situations. Additionally, workers responsible for their care receive training to know how to respond and where to seek help if children need assistance. 

Insafe booth at the IGF 2023 Exhibition Village. Credits: Better Internet for Kids

Furthermore, the Belgian Safer Internet Centre, Child Focus, has made efforts to be inclusive towards children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or learning disabilities. The centre realised that some resources were not accessible to these children and required to be adapted with a more comprehensive language.

The STAR+ is an online educational resource promoting safe and responsible internet use among young people aged ten and over with ASD. Professionals in centres and specialised and integration education can use this free tool. This educational resource helps open dialogue on various topics, such as online safety, the reliability of information, and the difference between online and offline friends and relationships.

Lastly, the Polish Safer Internet Centre discussed interventions with Ukrainian refugees. Since the war started in 2022, about 16 million refugees, mostly women and children, have crossed the border to Poland. Nearly one million Ukrainian refugees live in Poland, and many children attend Polish schools (about 200,000). The Polish Safer Internet Centre provides them with online safety educational resources in their language and a Ukrainian translation for major educational events. The Polish helpline has a counsellor who speaks Ukrainian and can support children and their parents or teachers with online issues. 

The National Research Institute, Nask and the coordinator of the Polish SIC have dedicated a special department to fight disinformation, often associated with the war in Ukraine.   

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