I am so delighted to have been asked by the ITU and Child Helpline International to moderate their important session on “Partnering to protect children and youth” at the ITU’s Telecom World gathering in Bangkok on 15th November. The abuse of children online is without question one of the darkest aspects of the use of ICTs, and it is great to see the work that so many child helplines are doing globally to counter and respond to this.
The main objective of the session is to highlight the work done by a range of ICT stakeholders to initiate and support child helplines in various parts of the world. The session will begin with introductory remarks from Houlin Zhao (the Secretary General of the ITU) and Professor Jaap Doek (Chair of the Board of Child Helpline international). This will be followed by a short video entitled No child should be left behind, and then Jenny Jones (Director Public Policy, GMSA) will launch new child online protection guidelines for child helplines. Following this, Doreen Bogdan-Martin (Chief of Strategic Planning and Membership, ITU) will provide a short overview of the joint campaign being run by the ITU and Child Helpline International to protect children and youth. She will also outline the process whereby case studies submitted to an online consultation organised by the ITU were selected by a specialist Jury.
I will then moderate what I hope will be a lively and useful panel discussion that brings together the following people and initiatives that were selected through the above process:
- Anthony Fitzgerald, Kids Helpline Manager, representing Optus from Australia;
- Ola-jo Tandre, Director and Head of Social Responsibility, Telenor Group;
- Mofya Chisala, Strategic Analyst, Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority; and
- Enkhbat Tserendoo from the Communications Regulatory Commission of Mongolia, Mobicom
As moderator, I hope to be drawing out general conclusions about what works, as well as the pitfalls to avoid, from the experiences of these examples of good practice from many different parts of the world. I very much hope that this will help those in other countries who are thinking about setting up child helplines, and that these experiences will also help those already running such helplines to improve the services that they offer children and young people.
Working together in partnership, we must do much more to counter the abuse of children online, and child helplines are an important element of the overall package of initiatives that must be implemented to achieve this.