Childnet statement on Online Harms White Paper published by Government

Posted on 08 April 2019

Today the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office published the Online Harms White Paper, outlining government proposals to make the internet a safer place.

Childnet CEO, Will Gardner OBE, also a Director in the UK Safer Internet Centre, says:

“We look forward to this opportunity to help shape a better and safer environment for children and to continue and grow our current work to equip them with the information and skills they need to navigate the internet positively and safely. As we speak to thousands of children, parents, teachers and other professionals each year, we want to mobilise and support them to be part of the solution. We know that young people have strong ideas and opinions on online safety and it is their experiences we hope to reflect when responding to this consultation.”

About Childnet and our approach

Since 1995, Childnet have championed young people’s voices and experiences, with the mission of making the internet a great and safe place for them. Childnet are one of three charities who make up the UK Safer Internet Centre and coordinate the annual Safer Internet Day in the UK which in 2019 reached 26% of young people. 

We work directly with children and young people from the ages of 3 to 18 on a weekly basis, as well as parents, carers, teachers and professionals, finding out about their real experiences online, and the positive things they are doing as well as sharing safety advice.

Working directly with these audiences is important in helping us to equip them to stay safe online and informs the resources that we develop for them. The conversations that we have with them also helps to inform how we develop and respond to policy issues and the messages that we take to government and the internet industry about the real experiences of children and young people and what needs to be done to make them safer.

At the heart of all our work is the belief that when used properly the internet is a wonderfully positive tool for children and young people. We strive to take a balanced approach, making sure that we promote the positive opportunities, as well as responding to the risks and equipping children and young people to deal with them. For example, this week we are launching our ‘Step Up Speak Up’ Toolkit in Brussels with our international partners in Denmark and Hungary, taking a youth delegation to campaign about tackling online sexual harassment.

Young people can play a powerful role in educating their peers; providing relatable and up to date advice, and shaping a school’s ethos by acting as role models. Our Childnet Digital Leaders Programme trains online safety peer mentors and harnesses young people’s potential to be leaders in their own school communities. We also run the Childnet Film Competition which asks young people to create their own online safety films to be shown to their peers. 

Responding to the Government consultation

The government have made a series of proposals to make the internet safer for children and adults in the UK. This includes a statutory duty of care for internet companies and a media literacy strategy.

Following on from the publication of this Online Harms White Paper, there is a 12-week consultation on the proposals which we will be responding to. We look forward to looking at the paper in more detail and using our expertise and amplifying the experiences of children and young people to respond in the best way possible.

See the full report.

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