“Keeping Children Safe Online” project at European Forum



What does an aid organisation like World Vision have to do with Internet safety? Its \’Keeping Children Safe Online\’ project recognises that children everywhere – both in wealthy and developing countries – have access to the Internet and are using it more and more to learn and socialise, bringing with it both benefits and risks.

\’As communities grow savvy to new technologies, this project sets a precedence for grassroots education around cyber safety and provides a skill set for successful and fun social media use. Going into its second phase of funding, the Keeping Children Safe Online project expands further into an additional two countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia region (MEER), with a future aim to involve all World Vision National Offices\’, said Christine Ash-Buechner, Head of Child Protection for World Vision in the MEER region.

World Vision MEER took a seat at this year\’s European Safer Internet Forum in Luxemburg to discuss safer Internet issues with representatives of industry, law of industry, law enforcement authorities, child welfare organisations and policy makers from Europe and around the globe, to network and promote the \’Keeping Children Safe Online\’ project.

Together with CyberEthics, the local partner that worked with the regional child protection team to create \’Keeping Children Safe Online\’, Mandy Yamanis, MEER Child Protection Assistant and founder of the project, took part in discussions and forums on the results of two major research projects funded by the Safer Internet Programme which were the focus of this year\’s conference.

\’The Forum was a platform of learning from experiences across different countries in Europe. These EU countries with the help of funding from the European Commission have created safer Internet awareness nodes, hotlines and helplines which have been running for some years now. We hope to replicate these learnings and tools developed to create safer Internet nodes throughout the region, and develop cluster networks and share best practices\’, explained Yamanis. Facebook, Microsoft, News Corporation and MySpace were all represented at the forum.

Created by Yamanis in partnership with Christine Ash-Buechner, the \’Keeping Children Safe Online project\’ will deliver a free supplemental framework for educational programmes so that children, parents and teachers are aware of Internet dangers and have tools to stay safe online. The interactive CD Rom and DVD supplement will share the latest information on websites, mobile telephones, and new technology available for children\’s use. Culturally appropriate and accessible reporting mechanisms will be established to report any illegal activities and help combat online abuse and exploitation of children. A website will be developed to include online training tools, information, video clips and information on reporting mechanisms.

All tools have been translated and contextualised for each country with children participating both in the design of the tools and providing \’voice-overs\’ for the CD.

Keeping Children Safe Online was piloted in Armenia and Lebanon in 2009 with funding from World Vision Australia.