Saturday 04 July 2020 - 4:17:23 am

World needs to ensure technology is working to protect our children, says Queen Silvia

VATICAN CITY, 14th November, 2019 (WAM) -- Queen Silvia of Sweden said that the world needs to ensure that the pioneers of technology are working to protect our children – not providing new opportunities to exploit them.

''Indeed, the digital revolution offers not only a threat, but also a hope to child safety. However, technology alone cannot solve the issue. All stakeholders, policy makers, companies, civil society and faith-based groups, must come together,'' said Queen Silvia in her speech before participants in an international congress in the Vatican on the theme, "Promoting Digital Child Dignity From Concept to Action, From 2017 to 2019". Next week, Sweden will invite some of the world’s sharpest minds on Artificial Intelligence and child safety for a Round Table at the Royal Palace in Stockholm to explore how we can accelerate development and the use of technology for good.

''Next week, on the 20th of November, we celebrate 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This same year also marks 30 years of the World Wide Web. Two important birthdays, of two human creations that have had immense success and reach over the last three decades. They were born in the same year, 1989 – and their developments are intertwined in a powerful way,'' she noted.

She indicated that a report issued last October by the Broadband Commission Working Group on Child Online Safety outlines recommendations and a clear roadmap for all stakeholders to deliver on ''our obligation of child online safety.'' It calls for implementing child protection strategies into National Broadband or digital plans is one of its recommendations and developing and implementing technology driven solutions.

''Every part of that ecosystem must be activated – and it all starts with the family and the community,'' she underscored.

In this context, Queen Silvia added, the voice of faith-based leaders is extremely important. It reaches local communities in many parts of the world. It stands for guidance, hope and continuity. It also stands for protecting child dignity online and offline.

''Religion can and shall offer a place of trust and safety. It should be a safe space, where children are met with love, respect and dignity; where they are listened to.'' ''Ladies and gentlemen: Your voices are listened to, your words matter. I ask you today to use those voices: Let children understand that we believe them, that they are not alone, that we will protect them and not the perpetrators.'' The message, I’m afraid, is clear: we are NOT doing enough. Our actions are not on par with the global pandemic. And the companies that provide platforms that enable the abuse need to prioritise child online safety.

She concluded by saying: ''Now, it is up to us to come together. Let us once again remember why we are here today. For the child who has suffered abuse. For the child who is at risk. For the child who carries guilt and shame. For this child, we have to speak with one voice and to act, collectively.''


WAM/Tariq alfaham/Hazem Hussein