Arigatou International joined the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to call for the inclusion of religious leaders and parents in training about the rights of children in the digital environment and to collaborate with them.
The statement was delivered by Ms. Emma Nowotny, Child Rights Program Officer, on 10 March 2023, during the Annual Day on Children’s Rights at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council.
This year, the theme of the Annual Day was The Rights of the Child and the Digital Environment. Through the statement, Arigatou International called on governments, decision-makers and civil society to “invest in educational programs and spaces that empower children to take an active role in the digital environment and become positive influencers among peers.”
Human Rights Council 52nd session
Annual Discussions on the Rights of the Child
10 March 2023
Arigatou International welcomes the discussions on child rights and the digital environment and the important views and recommendations that children shared.
In line with General comment No. 25 (2021), we call for a holistic approach to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks that the digital environment presents, to ensure that violence against children is addressed properly and mitigated.
Legal protection is crucial for a safe digital environment, but we must also prioritize combating the normalization and stigma of online violence and its intersection with other types of violence.
We, therefore, call on governments, decision-makers and civil society to:
1. Develop training for those closest to children and with the moral authority to intervene and support, namely religious leaders, parents, caregivers and educators to learn about the rights of children in the digital environment, understand the risks and linkages with other violence, recognize the early signs of child’s victimization, and reporting mechanisms. We call particular attention to the role of religious leaders in many parts of the world, who are well-positioned to influence their believers and protect children. Religious communities are the largest and most connected grassroots organizations in the world, and with an immense potential to support and influence social change.
2. Invest in educational programs and spaces that empower children to take an active role in the digital environment and become positive influencers among peers. This requires providing them with the space to take joint action to address hate speech and the spread of extreme ideologies, protect themselves against violence and abuse, speak up for others, and understand their rights, including in the digital environment. Ethics education programs that support the development of critical thinking, intercultural and interreligious competencies, and foster empathy and individual and collective responsibilities, have proved effective in empowering children and youth as agents of change.
To conclude, we invite all States and organizations present here to use a multi-sectoral approach to create synergies to develop more effective mechanisms to protect and empower children. It is our ethical responsibility to move beyond working in silos and collaborate.
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