“The Human Rights of Children and Adolescents in Digital Environments in a Global Context” by the Hon. Natalia Marcela Molina

The opportunity to participate in international events is always enriching, especially because different cultures with very diverse backgrounds converge at the meeting. This meeting has not been the exception.

This Conference took place as part of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. UNGA 2020 was organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), in association with its global partners, the United Nations member states, UN organs, and civil society organizations around the world.

Thus, with the title “Transforming Our World – Five years of action towards the SDGs”, the Conference was opened on September 23, in which high-level representatives of the United States participated, and also UN members, the United Nations and other international organizations, the private sector, civil society organizations, human rights defenders, journalists, academics and different professionals.

Different topics were addressed in the panels, and the meeting aimed to create a platform to discuss the 2030 Global Agenda.

I believe important to share the following thoughts:

As a consequence of the COVID pandemic, online education and communication has increased drastically, which has led to the earlier exposure of our children to digital environments and their threats.

The production and distribution of child sexual abuse content and online harassment is a crime in many countries, and is growing as we speak.

Both of these crimes take place in the digital environment, more specifically in social media, but it’s important to mention that, in all cases, they are committed offline and recorded to later on be uploaded in the internet.

Once this image or videos are online, they automatically become a part of an enormous child sexual abuse network that not only exposes the pain of these victims to millions, but puts at risk, once again, their physical and psychic integrity.

During this last couple of months, this type of crimes have increased strongly in Argentina, and the number keeps growing every minute that goes by.

But what is truly frightening, is that there are no boundaries for this crimes and that, even today, there are many countries that still don’t have any type of laws, to prevent or punish, this terrible acts. This is worrying.

Even in Latin America which is, at the moment, the most advanced region in the implementation of this new measures, we are still learning and facing challenges.

There is no doubt to me, that this problem needs to be a part of the agenda in all countries, but especially in those who have not yet implemented laws to ensure justice for victims and prevent this from happing, over and over again.

It is absolutely necessary that these countries reconsider their position and adapt their legislations to guarantee the human right of children that are abused under the eyes of the world.

Nonprofit organizations can help minimize this issue in many ways, such as actively working on campaigns that expose this topic and bring conscience to governments, in order for them to put new laws in the agenda that will help resolve this matter.

Cybercrime, organized or not, has no boundaries and expands fast; which is why we need a world that is united, with international collaboration and fluent communication on this topic.

All of you here today have a key role in society and it is my wish to encourage you and your organizations to expose this issue and help bring conscience to your communities.

This effort will not only help prevent this horrible acts, but will also put pressure on your governments to modify their legislations, to ensure justice to all victims.

Right now, as I give my speech, there are thousands of people online distributing or consuming child sexual abuse content, and their victims keep getting younger and younger.

We need your help to stop this.

We need to start working on campaigns that inform and prevent online sexual harassment of minors at all levels.

Let’s call the attention of our governments, as it is their responsibility to teach not only kids about the matter, but also their parents, so that they can share this knowledge with their children and prevent them from being exposed to this type of danger.

Let’s work actively on digital education, the concept of “privacy” and the prevention of cyber abuse.

The world has changed and it will keep changing.

A kid alone in his room, playing with his laptop and without the correct digital education, is no longer safe. Information is freedom, privacy es freedom,

Let’s talk about this. Let’s work on prevention. Let’s inspire all countries to acknowledge this problem and work on their legislation, in order to minimize this issue.

This is a priority. We need to be committed. We need to be strong.

Let’s expose this and encourage victims to report these acts. This is really important.

Let’s help them lose their fear.

There are excellent professionals willing to help out as, for example, the International Centre for Missing Exploited Children (ICMEC) who has been doing a magnificent job and in which website you can find lots of information on how to prevent or report this type of events.

There is something I want to make very clear; child sexual abuse content IS NOT “Child Pornography”.

Child pornography does not exist, as sexual activities are a part of the adult world and they are supposed to take place with consent from all parties.

Child sexual abuse content is nothing like that.

It is about the suffering and hurting of minors, and addressing it the wrong way continues to harm the integrity of children over and over again.

Kids are the most valuable part of society and it is our job to do everything in our power to ensure a safer and better world for all of them.

So….

Let’s get to it.

The article was written by Judge Natalia Marcela Molina. The views presented in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the IAWJ.