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Rome Reports

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Experts ask Internet giants to prevent online abuse of minors

The next time a mobile phone or tablet is given to a child, think twice. Experts from around the world are sounding the alarm about the dangers that stalk children on the Internet, and have asked the network's giants to decide once and for all to protect children.

SHEILA HOLLINS
Psychiatrist (United Kingdom)

“There are things that happen in the Internet which actually hurt children, (they can hurt adults as well). So things like children in schools, they are hurting each other: sexting, sextortion, revenge porn, all this terms that people would be familiar with. But the extent of it is just huge.”

ERNIE ALLEN
Chairman, WeProtect Global Alliance

“We would like to see these companies become a part of the solution, not just create a new program once in a while, not just educate parents... But we need to figure out a way... Baroness Hollins mentioned 25 percent of Internet users are children and yet they are using the same software, the same framework, the same limitations that adults are using, who have no limits. So we have to figure out how these companies can create a child safe portion of their service.”

The Pontifical Gregorian University organized this conference on Child Dignity on the Internet in which representatives of Facebook, Google and Microsoft participated. They presented possible tools to cope with the emergency at hand. However, other experts say simply more ambition and creativity is not enough.

ERNIE ALLEN
Chairman, WeProtect Global Alliance

“They are doing some really good things in this area. But we are in a situation now where they are going to have to take extra steps because the Internet cannot be allowed to be a save haven for the abuse and exploitation of children.”

SHEILA HOLLINS
Psychiatrist (United Kingdom)

“The companies who are creating materials, should be being designing them for children, children are using them... If you created a toy that was unsafe, you would be prosecuted, right? If you created a playground, which was unsafe, you would be prosecuted. The Internet is a playground for children and it is unsafe.”

The first great result of the congress has been "The Declaration of Rome," a document delivered to the pope and signed by representatives from many areas. It proposes a global commitment to end this terrible problem, but this alone does not suffice to protect the present moment and the future lives of the smallest in our society.