Digital environments are playing an increasingly central role in the lives of children and adults. Due to the pandemic, many children are now both socialising and learning even more online. This has provided many opportunities, but it can heighten risks to children, which can be scary for parents and other caregivers alike.
In keeping children safe online, prevention is vital. We know that child sexual abuse and exploitation can be a challenging and sensitive topic to discuss with children, but it can be a vital step in keeping children safe.
Both at home and at school, it is vital that parents, teachers and other adults who may play an important role in a child’s life help them to understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour and contact, to learn about consent and to help them to understand what steps they can take to get help if somebody does something that makes them feel uncomfortable, or that upsets or harms them.
On the internet, businesses have a wide range of tools readily available which can help them to detect illegal behavior that harms children. These tools also have the ability to prevent the harm from happening in the first place. Any responsible businesses that care about children should be using these tools on a voluntary basis. For those who choose not to use such tools, the law should compel them. ECPAT International is committed to advocating for this through Project Beacon (learn more about Project Beacon here), and sees it as critical for prevention and keeping children safe.
Whilst we move this piece of work forward, the organisation wants to share how adults with children in their lives can have this conversation with children. Here are the best resources to help keep your child safe online from our valuable partners in Europe and around the world:
Help us to raise the importance of educating children in keeping safe online by talking to children about the dangers of online activity.
Since we wrote this article, there have been inevitably developments in terms of EU law and policy that tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse. On 14 July 2021, the temporary derogation to the E-Privacy Directive was published in the official journal of the EU . This directive maintains the status quo for what concerns the proactive use of technology to detect CSAM by online service providers in the EU. The E-privacy Directive has a timeline of three years, and it is essential that longer-term legislation to tackle online child sexual abuse and exploitation is introduced by 13 July 2024.
For this reason, since 2021, ECPAT International is advocating, through Project Beacon, to ensure child protection from sexual abuse and exploitation within the European Digital Services Act that is going to be finalised between April and May 2022- Additionally, Project Beacon advocates for a more comprehensive EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse.
ECPAT continues to work in close partnership with organisations across the EU and globally to advocate for child protection in digital environments. This means leveraging and sharing collective expertise, networks, and voices. ECPAT believes that protecting children from exploitation and abuse online is both possible and essential, and will continue to fight for the best outcomes for children in all relevant EU and international processes.
 Regulation (EU) 2021/1232 on a temporary derogation from certain provisions of Directive 2002/58/EC as regards the use of technologies by providers of number-independent interpersonal communications services for the processing of personal and other data for the purpose of combating online child sexual abuse.
Why does it matter? Follow us on Twitter here to learn more and share your thoughts using the hashtag #ProjectBeacon.