Child Protection vs. Child Rights: Are They in Conflict?
24 October 2013 - A Workshop on in Bali,Indonesia
The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the Eigth Meeting of the IGF, in Bali, Indonesia. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Good afternoon, everyone. Hello. We are just about to start the proceedings. We are at 4:30, the back end of the day. It looks like a very good participation so far. So I'm really delighted. And thanks again for joining us at this very, very interesting thought‑provoking session that we are hoping it to be.
As you know, the whole point that we are going to discuss today in this session is the balance between child rights and child protection, or if you look at it the other way around, is there a conflict between children's rights to participation and their protection? So we will see at the end of the day where we stand, what are the thoughts and how we come up with our own views in this very, very delicate issue, important issue.
I just wanted to say this is not a one‑off session, you can think of it as a continuation of a process that had started in the last year's meeting, right? And I was privileged to be the moderator for that particular session where we had the participation of young people in our panel. We had adult speakers, both coming from a child protection and child safety spectrum, and we had very, very engaged young people who are using the Internet today, day in and day out. Last year they provided us with very, very interesting ideas about what do they feel about the Internet, their own safety and so on.
So if you can close the door. Please have a seat.
My name is Anjan Bose and I'm the Program Officer for ITC representing the club international. And our organization works globally to combat, to fight against the sexual exploitation of children. That will probably give you a sense of where I come from and some of the views that you may hear during the course of some of the discussions.
On my left, we have Larry Magid, he's from Connect Safely, the organizer of this panel. On my right, we have Janice Richardson, she's the coordinator for InSafe, the whole series of SchoolNet programs that run in Europe and a key mover before the Safer Internet Day. Next to her is John Carr, who is also an internationally known global expert on child online safety and share his views of the Internet and technologies. He has very recently joined a part international as our global advisor on child safety online.
Next to him is Nevine Tewfit from the Ministry of ICT in Egypt, and Nevine has been involved in conducting an awareness program in Egypt and had been instrumental in creating a space for online safety engagements in the Arab region. On her right is Yannis Li from the DotKids Foundation in Hong Kong. She had also been engaged in the IGF process for the last few years. So it's a very diverse mix we have here. I would like to give the floor to Larry for his very short opening comments before we go to John.
>> LARRY MAGID: Two comments. One is there are a lot of young people in the audience and this, what I'm about to suggest, applies to everybody here, whether you're on the panel or the audience. If you came with a prepared speech, please throw it away. If you came with extensive notes, please ignore them. If somebody told you what they think you ought to say, please ignore that. Speak from the heart. It's a passionate subject. It's an important subject. I don't have anything prepared. I'm quite sure John doesn't. Please just speak from the heart.
Okay. The other thing, speaking of John, this, as Anjan said, this is a follow‑up of a conversation we had last year where there was a disagreement. But I want to preface that disagreement by saying it was really a disagreement among very close friends and colleagues who are really focused on the same goal, which is what is the best way to achieve a society where people are safe and secure and free. I am not oblivious to the needs of safety and security can, and John is not oblivious to the needs of free speech, but we are going to differ, I suspect, and I think that's an important differentiation because this is a very important issue and there is no simple answer.
I will say at the very beginning, even though I am going to take a position, I fully understand the complexity of the situation and it needs a lot of discussion. I have a feeling this is not the last time we're going to be talking about this issue.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Absolutely, Larry. And I think what we would encourage all of you to be neutral in your opinion, your belief. The things that you want to say, please speak it out. Don't feel that you have to say something because others are saying it. And we don't necessarily have to come up with a very definite answer to the problem. It's way of expressing what we think and how things should move. So there you are, John.
>> JOHN CARR: I'm not going to tell everybody how much I love Larry, because it would just ‑‑ you know, we have to get a little bit pugilist at some point to make the afternoon interesting.
Yeah, I mean, basic proposition. Not everything knew is good. Not everything old is bad. And yet, and this is one of the things I do feel slightly resentful of when a lot of these discussions take place. Anybody who tries to raise questions or criticisms about the drift which technology is going, particularly in relation to kids, you often find, not saying this is true of anybody in this room, their views tend to be minimized or dismissed, or you're kind of portrayed as being some kind of boring old ‑‑ or reaction that just doesn't get it. It's an unhealthful attitude, I think. But it's a product very much, I think, of the way in which the Internet industry and some of the companies within it have sold the image of what cyberspace is and what the Internet is all about.
If you were to listen to some of the campaigners or some of the people I sometimes have to deal with talking about the Internet, you'd think that the only thing the Internet was about was overthrowing tyranny, promoting free speech and things of that nature, and helping whistleblowers to expose corruption and things of that kind, and all in all being cool.
Of course, the Internet is about those things. But it's not only about those things. And we can't ‑‑ every single debate or every single discussion about what's the right thing to do in terms of child protection cannot be reduced to a zero sum argument where any steps taken to protect children are always portrayed as being at the expense of or in can only be done if there is more limitations on free speech. That is simply an unacceptable way of conducting the debate. Fundamentally what I think is the difficulty that we have is that the Internet is trying to be too many things to too many people all of the time. And in the long run, it is not sustainable. It cannot ‑‑ it cannot go on indefinitely in the way that it's currently structured and managed is basically how I think about this issue.
So, over many, many years in most countries we have developed a series of policies, rules, regulations to help each society bring up its children in the way that best fits its own values. For example, in the United Kingdom, obviously the country I know best, we have a rule that says that certain types of movies should only be seen by people who are over the age of 18. If you go to a cinema, they would be breaking the law if they let you go into that house to watch a movie that was rated as 18.
Certain types of computer games can only be sold to people who are over 18. And there are ‑‑ alcohol, tobacco, there's a whole set of things which over time societies around the world have said we think that these types of ‑‑ this type of content, this type of activity is not appropriate for people below a certain age.
Now, seems to me you can either criticize those rules and say these are bad rules or wrong rules, but I haven't heard anybody make that case. I haven't heard anybody say, let's get rid of all of the rules about film classification. Let's get rid of all of the rules about alcohol or gambling. Let's get rid of all the rules about who can have sex with whom, all those sorts of things. Generally that argument is not put. In other words, the legitimacy of the basic propositions that have underpinned a lot of child protection policy in many, many countries raise are not challenged, except in one space, and that's where it comes to the Internet.
One of my basic points is I don't see any reason why just because the Internet is around and this new technology developed that we should abandon any notion that we no longer have a responsibility to uphold rules that we've developed for different reasons for many of the years.
Here's a couple problems I see with this debate. Anjan is absolutely right, it's certainly not a finished or definitive view at the end of the day. It can't be. Much smarter people than me have been wrestling with these issues for years. One of the problems with the debate is it tends to take place on a very, very broad spectrum and very high level of generalization. We speak about people and young people as if they were a homogenous group. They ain't. There's a whole range of different vulnerabilities, different capabilities, existing amongst young people in families. Even within the same age ranges there can be vast differences between children's capacities and vulnerabilities and so on.
You know, one of the things that we hear all of the time is the importance about media literacy as being one of the keys to unlock all of this. Of course, I'm 100 percent in favor of media literacy. The best defense, the best protection for any child under any circumstances anywhere in life, including the way they use the Internet is what they themselves know; what's between their left ear and right ear. Those are always going to the best tools. But tell me, how does media literacy work with 3‑year‑olds and 4‑year‑olds? 37 percent of three and 4‑year‑olds are going online regularly in the United Kingdom. 9 percent of three and 4‑year‑olds have their own iPad or tablet. Both of those numbers are going to go up as the technology gets cheaper and more easily available. Tell me, how does media literacy work with three and 4‑year‑olds? What you end up with is wagging your finger and telling parents, now you must not let them go on and use the Internet unsupervised. We know wagging your finger doesn't work. Look at other areas of social policy. Look at family breakdowns. Look at teenage pregnancy. Look at the whole range of other areas where we have tried to talk to people and tried to persuade people, families, parents to try and behave in a particular way and it hasn't been anything successful that we would want it be to. It's exactly the same, I'm afraid, in the way of the Internet. That's why I think the technology companies who develop this wonderful technology have a particular responsibility to do everything they can both in the way of education and awareness, but also a technical level try and support good practices amongst parents and good protection for kids.
Because let's be clear, never before has a social space like the Internet existed. By and large we go through life more or less associating with people of our own age or within our own social groups and within our own social class. Actually, when you think about the rules about the kind of material that we can access and cinema rules about gambling and alcohol and all of these things, these are framed in that way, in terms of age groups and so on.
The Internet is very disruptive in the sense that ‑‑ I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I'm simply stating it's a fact. The Internet, nothing like it has existed before where on a very, very large scale such a very wide range of people of different ages, different social backgrounds, different attitudes are brought together in the way that it is. And I just don't think that the way that we're handling things at the moment is likely to be sustainable in the long run.
So I guess my basic point and my complete, my concluding point is this. The Internet is trying to do too much for too many people across too diverse a range of interests. That in the long run is not sustainable. We're going to have to move to an environment where we have a much greater degree of certainty about who users are Internet and once we have that, then I think a lot of other things will start to fall into place. That's not an argument against free speech. It's not an argument against kids having access to information. I'm absolutely very strongly in favor of that. Of course, I am. But it is an argument for saying that we need to think of a better way of doing it than we've managed up to now.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Thank you, John. If I may just add ‑‑ or ask you a question to clarify. When you said that Internet is trying to do too much, too many things, who are you referring to here?
>> JOHN CARR: No. My point is the vast range of age ‑‑ the range of ages mixing in a single space, the range of materials that are accessible to three and 4‑year‑olds, just as they are 50 and 60‑year‑olds, that's never existed before. It's only through the Internet that these sorts of questions have taken on any salience. And I don't think in the long run that position is sustainable. It's never worked in human history before. I don't think the mere fact that the Internet now exists and you've got these big platforms which are allowing that type of exchange to happen, I don't think that necessarily means that's end of debate and we have to accept that as a permanent fact of life forever. In fact, I'm absolutely certain it will not be a fact of life forever because it's already showing signs of not working well enough. And I think those signs will get worse, not better, unless we act.
>> LARRY MAGID: First of all, John, it's good that you said that the Internet is doing too much in front of an American, you know, because we own the Internet. And we'll take care of that. In fact, the next time our government shuts down, maybe we'll get somebody to turn the Internet off for a while and then we won't be doing anything, like the government.
We need to remember here that we're talking about speech. Now I know that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is a local ordinance that doesn't apply to the United Kingdom or any other country. But it's kind of an important principle. And the last time I read it there was no age qualification. It didn't say anything about you had to be a certain age to enjoy freedom of speech. It's a universal declaration. Yet, having said that, even in our own country, perhaps especially in my own country, there has never been respect for the rights of children when it comes to speech, when it comes to freedom of assembly. There's an enormous concern for them to be safe and secure and protected. That is very much part of our ethos of late, although sometimes one wonders whether that's properly applied given the number of kids that are in poverty, obese, and having other issues.
When it comes to the rights of children, it's almost as if children are the property of their parents. That is very much true in the United States. In fact, I have to say the country you live in, John, I think many of the countries here have a more progressive attitude towards children privacy, than the United States does. In the United States, children have no presumption of any privacy vis‑à‑vis their own parents. A parent has the right to snoop on the child at any time on any medium. In fact, as I understand it, that is not the case in much of Europe and the United Kingdom where children have real privacy rights, in that no one, including their own parents, have a right to impose.
So this is not ‑‑ I am not coming from a position of any moral superiority in terms of the country I happen to live in and come from. But I do think this speech issue becomes a very important thing. We're not talking about consumption of alcohol here. In fact, we're not even talking about consumption at all, although it's part of it. We're also talking about participation in the civic discussion. We're talking about the ability to engage. I am particularly concerned, for example, that there are limitations on social media. In schools it is often filtered out in band, whether it's Facebook, You Tube, Twitter or other social media platforms people where of all ages are communicating and interacting. I'm also concerned for some of the policies. For example, I was very pleased when just last week Facebook lifted its policy that prohibited teenagers to post in public. Many thought it was a great policy because it protected children against their own bad judgment from exposing themselves. I think about this amazing young woman, Malala Yousafzai ‑‑ I hope I'm pronouncing her last name correctly ‑‑ the 16‑year‑old from Pakistan who was shot at, injured. She's made speeches. I believe there was a documentary film made about her. She's reached out. She's talked to people. She's organized. She's public. Until last week, she couldn't have posted on Facebook in a public manner. So her free speech rights to do what she does off of Facebook were ‑‑ in a column I wrote this morning on this very subject for the San Jose Mercury News, I started thinking about my own background. As I can tell from the gray hair, I've been around a few years. Although I wasn't particularly active myself in the civil rights movement in the '60s, I was very much aware of it and I did become active later as a young college student in both the civil rights movement and anti‑Vietnam War movement. It was young people, not just college students, high schoolers, teenagers who put themselves on the line, who appeared on radio, who appeared on television, who in some cases were teargassed, beaten and arrested for political and social beliefs. And it changed the world. Who along with Martin Luther King turned around over 100 years of horrible racism ‑‑ didn't turn it around completely, but got us a monumental Civil Rights Act.
Those young people if they were to have that same campaign today would not be allowed to post on that ‑‑ would not have been allowed to post because they weren't old enough to enjoy the rights. Because, God forbid, they might do something to harm them.
This notion of protectionism, I'm not going to argue with you, John, about whether a two or 3‑year‑old should be protected from looking at porn or anything else that may be psychological harmful on their iPads, and I do think we need to find ways to make sure very young children can use this technology without having to be exposed to inappropriate content.
But when it comes to teenagers or even tweens in some cases, it turns out that kids have curiosity, they're interested. It's going to get messy. There is no question, it's going to get messy. Guess what? This technology has been around long enough that we have plenty of evidence to show that there has not been a total wholesale reversal of health and well‑being. I happen to have two children in their early twenties ‑‑ actually, now in late 20s who, as far as I can tell, are neither serial killers or in any way abnormal or unacceptable and they were exposed to this technology at young age. So there are many, many people young. When I look at young people today, I don't see a generation of people who have been harmed by the technology, I see a generation that is healthier and more productive than any generation in history.
When I look at the statistics on how young people are doing, teen suicide, everybody says, oh, my God, cyber bullying is causing teens to jump off bridges left and right. Since the advent of the Internet, suicide among teenagers has actually declined slightly. Sexual victimization against teenagers has dramatically decreased during the age of the Internet. Since the '90s, its gone down by something like 68 percent. This, by the way, is not made up by me, it's by the crimes against research center which is funded by the justice department which is run by real scientists, social scientists. They're not using Survey Monkey for their study, they're doing real research. The data is overwhelmingly positive. By almost every risk factor that you can look at except poverty and obesity, children and young people are doing better today than they were years ago. So this notion that somehow the Internet is turning our children into morally corrupt, bankrupt victims of horrendous crimes is not true.
>> JOHN CARR: Larry ‑‑
>> LARRY MAGID: I'm sorry, John, this is ‑‑
>> JOHN CARR: Larry, are you suggesting that because of the Internet ‑‑
>> LARRY MAGID: No. I want to make it very clear, as a former sociologist, I had my degree, doctorate was in survey research, that a correlation does not mean a causation. A correlation is not a causation. So, if a child was bullied and commits suicide, that does not mean that the bullying led to the suicide. It may, it may not. And the fact that the Internet has risen while teen victimization has gone down, does not necessarily mean the Internet has caused teen victimization to go down. Anybody that claims it has gone up as a result of the Internet is not paying attention to the fact that it hasn't gone up. You can't make that argument. You might be able to make other arguments.
Now, having said that, I think we all agree, one child bullied is one child too many. One child exposed to inappropriate content is one child too many. One child sexually abused is one child too many. Nobody in this room would ever disagree with that.
Actually, this wholesale notion of protecting all children as if they're equally vulnerable may, in fact, contribute to the danger of children. It's a possibility and there is some research that backs this up; that by treating all children equally by assuming one size fits all, by creating these campaigns that try to exaggerate risk and instill fear among young people that you could actually be causing more danger than preventing. There's some data from this. The DARE program, just say no anti‑drug program was shown to actually have contributed to the use of drugs rather than taken away. The kids who went to the program were more likely to use drugs than kids who didn't take the program.
There's also evidence that when you create a norm space approach to education, that improves behavior. If you think that your friends are not smoking, you are less likely to smoke. If the people around you are not obese, you are less likely to be obese. Studies were done by two sociologists at Perkins and Craig, that if you perceive that the school environment you are in is a positive empathetic environment where bullying is not accepted, you are less likely to bully. They have done research to show that rather than saying 20 percent of the students were bullies, you point out that 80 percent don't engage in that behavior and that improves the situation. You actually reduce the level of bullying. So this notion that we have to constantly be protecting and fear monitoring and scaring people into doing the right thing, actually, may be contributing in a negative way.
Now, on the issue of ‑‑ oh, I always want to add, bullying by the way, is another statistic, people think there's an epidemic of bullying, bullying has actually gone down, not up. I can only speak for the U.S. I haven't studied European data or Asian data. I know that in the U.S. bullying has actually decreased slightly over the last few years, and cyber bullying is not on any kind of meteoric rise. It's higher than it was 20 years ago because it didn't exist 20 years ago. But there is not an epidemic that is affecting, depending on the study, anywhere from six to 25 percent of the teen population, youth population.
But getting back to this notion of protecting, when it comes to protecting children against themselves, the best medication, and John quoted me, actually, I'm the one who coined that term, the best solution or the best filter is not the one that runs on the device, but the one that runs between the child's ears. I said that in 1997 at an American Links Up event, and that has been true ever since. The reason for that is that even if you are successful in protecting a child from age birth to 18, which is the age of majority in the U.S., with any luck that child is going to turn 18. And with any luck, that child is going to be an adult for a lot longer than they were a child. They are likely to live into their 80s or 90s or today 120. If you can get that filter working within the brain, instead of this constant protectionism, this constant don't do this, don't do that, don't access that, if you can get that filter working, not only will it protect them during their childhood, but it will protect them during adulthood. And we have seen too many cases of kids going off to college, you know, they're 18 years old, the switch got pulled, last week you're a child and filtered, not allowed to do this. Now you're a college student, you can do whatever you want. We've seen too many cases where things have gone really sour as a result of them not being psychologically prepared to handle adulthood. So I think it's important in the name of protecting children, we don't bubble wrap them. We provide them with leadership. We provide them with good role models. We provide them with good education. We accept the fact it's going to be a little bit messy. We do what we can. We protect vulnerable children, but not treat every child as vulnerable, that is going to be healthier and safer environment for our children than this constant overprotection.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Thanks, Larry. That was quite a speech.
>> JOHN CARR: Hard act to follow.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Yes. I will have John to respond to you. I just want to say, I mean, that what we are trying to reach out is how do we achieve that state? How do we give that empowerment to children, the rights, and at the same time protect one single child? So that's the challenge. That's the big challenge that's ahead of us. Both of you are right in the sense that there is no uniform vulnerability. We know that it varies across the board, across the region, across cultures. So we have to be cognizant of all these differences and diversity when we apply our measures.
John, you would like to ‑‑
>> JOHN CARR: Let's take pornography as an example of something which I think is available too easily to minors. Now, there's a lot of research been done particularly in the '60s and '70s about whether porn is a good thing or a bad thing, adverse effect or null effect on people. The problem with that old research is essentially twofold. First of all, what they meant by pornography then, generally speaking, was a picture of a naked lady in the center of a magazine like Playboy or something like that. It's what today would be called certainly soft porn. It might not even be classified as porn anymore because it's so ‑‑
>> LARRY MAGID: ‑‑ it's a Sunday supplement.
>> JOHN CARR: Perhaps even that. When I speak about pornography and the kind of concerns that exist around that, I'm talking pictures and images of violence generally towards women. Certainly highly misogynistic, often bizarre sorts of sexual practices which never before in human history have been available on the scale that it is now; 24/7, 365 days a year, free. We are at the moment in living in the middle of ‑‑ I can't remember who said this first, sadly it wasn't me, but we are at the moment living through the biggest experiment ever in the upbringing of children. I certainly don't think it can possibly be to the good. I can't prove it because there aren't the kind of long‑term in depth analyses of the impact of this material on children. But I guess every kind of instinct that I have, and some preliminary research finally suggests that exposure to that kind of material to children is completely distorting, particularly girls ideas of self‑worth and self‑image and things of that kind.
Now, I think that is exactly the kind of material where that ought to be ‑‑ the precautionary principle ought to be applied. We ought to be better, be able to do better to preserve, particularly younger people, to being exposed to that kind of material. Better than we are now. Some people say that's a limitation of their free speech right. I think it may well be a limitation on some people free speech rights, but the UN convention on the rights of the child repeatedly makes it clear that it is perfectly legitimate to restrict certain rights or certain access, however, you want to put it, in order to defend children or protect children's health, upbringing, well‑being or whatever. I think it applies not just to pornography, by the way, I think that's the one most people speak about most frequently. I think it can apply equally to other things.
Now we have to decide, are we willing to put up with that limitation or aren't we? Is it worth taking that step to protect children or are we willing to let it all go and see what happens 20 years down the track?
>> LARRY MAGID: Okay. Very quick response. That same technology that blocks this horrendous material that I agree is certainly offensive, I don't know if it causes any harm, but I do know it is offensive, also blocks social media and also blocks ‑‑ the other day I wanted to go to a wearable computing conference website and I happened to be in a coffee shop, they used a filter and I couldn't get there. I think we would all agree that's an aberration of what is intended, but social media is very, very different than hard core pornography.
>> ANJAN BOSE: All right. So we move on to ‑‑ I'm sure you're really, really eager to share your thoughts today. Just hold on. Let us hear from our other distinguished panelists who will share more light on this issue. So Janice, if you don't minute.
>> JANICE RICHARDSON: Yeah, certainly. And a couple of points, but first of all, I'm going to talk about the three Ps; positives, parents and partnership. I was a little curious when I heard that Internet tried to be too many things because, in fact, Internet is what we're all making of ‑‑ we were voting in our last session who was responsible for what Internet is. And there were many young people amongst us and the answer was me. That we are all the ones that are responsible. And yet, we did hear ‑‑ well, I wasn't around. But we did hear back in the 15th and 16th Century the very same argument against books; it was going to do this and it was going to do that. And I don't think that books harmed us. And now they're trying to get us and get young people to read books all the time.
I think that today we are in a very broad ‑‑ in fact, broader than ever social and educational space which has so many opportunities. And, yes, certainly there are many things we have to look at within these opportunities. One thing that concerns me, for example, is the latest research on neuroplasticity that shows when he use the computer intensively, we use certain parts of our brain but are perhaps neglecting the pre‑frontal lobe which helps us look at the consequences of our actions.
As educators, I do represent 30 Ministers of Education as well as the Unsafe Network here, I think we have to be conscious of that ‑‑ with young people. We have developed things like this with young people on trying to get them to reflect and really find a way of balancing what they're probably not getting because it takes a little while for the evolution of the human brain to catch up with what's going on in the way we're learning.
Next, if I look at positives, first of all, for young people, we need positive content and we need positive experience. I have been involved in education for 48 years now. As a teacher, I mean, not as a student. One thing that I've learned is when there's positives, kids don't really go seeking the negative. Although, there is an exception. Kids absolutely love filters and blocking because it's the biggest challenge they get technically to find ways around it. So perhaps we should keep them up there, kids are getting much smarter technically by having to get around them.
But when I talk about examples ‑‑ and perhaps one thing that they did forget in UN convention of the rights of the child is for a child to have its rights it also have to have a parent who is able to let it grow enough to be able to appreciate those rights. So I think the whole thing depends on positive experiences, positive learning, but also through the parents.
John was particularly concerned about three and 4‑year‑olds. But I would say we can draw a parallel here. Babies, why do we encourage that they are breast fed? It's actually because they get immunity from the mother and then they really get a good kick start in life because they're immune to many diseases and illnesses. It's pretty much the same, actually, from my experience with children. A child who begins going online with a parent and who shares the experience, and when that experience is continued, then that child will grow sharing things, speaking to parents. And when anyone comes to me and says, what's the best thing I can do to protect my child from all these dreadful things, I say, speak with your child. But let's look ‑‑ I think there's an example. You know that the last ‑‑ yesterday, in fact, there was a very big Buddhist celebration. And I can't get the word right, Galedon or something. It's a very, very important event someone was telling me because in families they have to look at the good and the bad. And I say, but why the bad? Why would you make a sacrifice to the bad?
Someone explained to me that you have to have a balance. There is bad in life and that's the way you build resilience, and that's the way you recognize good, and that's the way you're able to do better things and be better.
But when I'm talking about parents there, my second, P, there's also something very important that you should know. We run 30 Help Lines across Europe and we receive some ‑‑ I think about 200,000 calls in a year across our 30 countries. One of the problems that we encounter is that when a child calls a Help Line parents can see, there is a trace that the child has called a Help Line. And imagine a child in an abused family where they have no real support, they can't turn to the web because the parents can snoop. They can spy on their children. They can find out where they go. Google held a hack‑a‑thon two years ago and one of the projects that was developed there was actually a button for the Help Line that you can put on the browser and once the child has hit the button and talked to someone on the Help Line, the button disappears and everything is wiped off the computer so it's absolutely not visible that the child visited a Help Line. It is a really poor society when we need to bring things like this in, but I think we can't continually think if a parent puts a blocking device on the child's computer that it is necessarily a good thing.
Thirdly, I'd like to talk about partnerships because in the session that we just did, we drew up six strategies for the future. It very much came up that education, E‑confident care, privacy by default, but also together we should develop norms. But industry was considered to be one of the most important players. And I think that we should look at the fact that industry is bringing innovation. We need this to keep progressing for the good and for the bad so that we in society can weigh this out, can balance it, and can find a way forward. And lastly, it's a total illusion to think that young people can learn to use these social tools by themselves. They need help and yet schools really aren't handling this.
We did a project called Social Media and Learning and Education. 100 teachers across the world worked with us. The key thing that came out if we really want children to have their rights respected, if we really want them to get the best out of Internet, learning in class to use these tools wisely, learning by example is most important.
I'll finish with the words of Benjamin Franklin, "Children are great imitators, so let's give them something great to imitate."
>> ANJAN BOSE: Thank you very much, Janis. You do mention a few very important points. You know, particularly the issue of giving access ‑‑ how community can be raised at an early stage. We can all debate about the risks related to that. If it's ‑‑ what may happen. But definitely we are at a stage where we are starting an extraordinary journey, so we cannot really have our presumptions without undertaking the path. I'm sure people will have questions to your ‑‑ we are forming a kind of position here. Not very clear, but we can see how it’s going. So I pass it on to Nevine.
>> NEVINE TEWFIT: Thank you, Anjan. I'm an Egyptian civil servant, so I have to talk to you about the Egyptian legislation and how we have ratified every single important legislation concerning the right of the child and we have also promulgated our own child law. And I have a list here of five, six legislations and maybe I can read to you the text. But I would like to spare you this reading.
So briefly, yes, our legal framework is in place, okay? So, theoretically, all is fine. All is set very well and practically the situation is completely different. I'm very proud to be a civil servant, and at the same time to be someone who has been working with many members of the panel here and someone who has worked also with Egyptian children. I have to say that on the level of freedom of expression and protection, we are facing a very big challenge because our country is going through a real transformation, a social economic and political transformation. And this transformation that is happening offline is also happening online.
So while we have all these treaties, all these laws in place that are trying to balance as much as possible between the rights and the protection of the child, we find that society is actually being polarized. We have, like, a dichotomy. On the one hand we have schools and parents who are trying to overprotect the children, overprotect them sometimes at the expense of their freedom of expression, as long as they are safe, as long as they are not exposed to any risks or threats online, as long as their culture, their principles, their values, their religion is well preserved, this is one camp. And, on the other hand, we have a community, Civil Society or children industries, children were actually taken to the streets in 2011 in Egyptian revolution and again on the 30th of June who have been ‑‑ who are actually younger than 18 and who have been extremely, extremely active on Facebook without revealing their real age, who have been extremely active on Twitter, as well, and to a large extent reshaped the political agenda. I know of several names of those children who have not reached the age of 18. They are children, according to the UN convention, who have been engaged in the civil movement that have taken place in political movements or who have been killed in these movements.
So we have two scenes, actually. The school and the ‑‑ how school is trying to overprotect, then the streets or the children who have access to the Internet in IT clubs who are not ‑‑ that are not completely supervised and who have actually shaped the political agenda of Egypt to a large extent and who have been actually pushing the border lines of what could be acceptable by the child.
I think that we are facing quite a big challenge. And this challenge is faced by teachers, by the education and institution, by parents and by the society at large, and that it requires really a social dialogue to set really the rules of the game or to set some basic principles for online, online interaction of children. We still have a very long way forward because I think that these rules are not yet clear. They are not yet set and they require really, a real peer dialogue, peer‑to‑peer dialogue.
They also require something I don't see enough in Egyptian society, which are NGO concerns with the right of the child online, not just the child for life, for physical protection for food, but also the right of the child for expression of opinion. I think our NGOs are busy doing other things for the moment.
But I also have strong hopes that we have strong institute, the national council for childhood and motherhood that is trying to integrate new text in Egyptian, the new Egyptian constitution that is currently being written about the rights of the child. And I hope that this counsel for childhood and motherhood will also have strong activities on the ground. They have history in awareness raising and I hope they will continue along this line.
So finally, I have to say that the solution is not, again, it's not a zero sum game, as John mentioned. The guided supervision or the media literacy of the parents and the teachers and society in general is irreplaceable for to guide the child, particularly if the child has outgrown, actually, the teacher, sometime and his own parent.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Thank you very much, Janice.
And last but not the least ‑‑ and I'm breaking all the conventions here. We normally give the floor first to our young speaker, but in the flow of our discussion, I think you would get the highlight here. We need to hear from you, what is your thought on this issue? Because that's what kind of is the representation of the youth and the children in this room and outside. Your honest thoughts on this one.
>> YANNIS LI: Okay. So this is Yannis from DotKids Foundation. Just a little bit background about our foundation. Actually, our foundation, our mission is to really create a kid‑friendly Internet for the ‑‑ for example, we can have www.unlc.kids, which that means for DotKids, which basically will provide like easy ‑‑ easier understanding of the dis ‑‑ so they can understand the rights better and they can easily find ‑‑ they can find more kid‑friendly content and there's like dedicate a space. Because I think what we are talking right now about how we can protect the children on this Internet because out there there are a lot of, like, awful content for them. But at the same time we really want to balance their rights. So I think actually both, they have the right to protection, as well as their rights to freedom of expression and information. I think what is very important is how we can draw the balance. That's really a challenge I can see from what most of the other panelists have shared.
So what I want to raise is it is really important that we really engage and empower the children in this discussion. That of just ‑‑ I mean the industry also that we think what we can do and what I think. Because actually, I mean, because the children, they actually no better what they want and what they really think is good for them. I mean, and so in order to, like, really, really make this ‑‑ I mean, make sure this, the rights is being, being empowered or heard I think is really important that we engage them in the process. Because right now I think ‑‑ of course, Janice, you have a panel that involve a lot of young people, which is good. But at the same time, at the policy making level I think there is not enough involvement with the young people. Usually they speak, but I mean when we make policy, we actually didn't really involve those ‑‑ I mean, I think. So actually, I think with this ‑‑ our foundation, with this DotKids foundation, actually we're hoping to really involve advisory council, also that we can get children to join in and discuss with a guideline that we can put in place to set the framework that, I mean, it can imply for this Internet space that is especially for them. So to make sure it is a good place for them.
Yeah, so I think ‑‑ I think we always forget ‑‑ we always focus on what the parents want, that is really want to protect them, but we never hear what the children really want. Because sometimes they don't really want their privacy to be invaded as such. Yeah.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Thank you very much. Can I ask you a question?
>> YANNIS LI: Yes.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Do you think you are being overprotected?
>> YANNIS LI: Well, actually I would say ‑‑ actually, I'm not under 18 right now and I'm not really a children. So I think I have my ‑‑ I am fully independent adult right now. So actually there is some other younger panel, maybe they're better ‑‑
>> ANJAN BOSE: I'm coming to them.
>> YANNIS LI: Yeah, a better target to ask this question.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Absolutely. The reason I ask this question is because we need to, to understand, you know, the position and whether it's a segment of the society that feels that children are overprotected. What do children feel themselves? Do they ‑‑ of course, now you're an adult, and we will come back to our younger population out there.
Before I open up to the floor, just a quick part, a realization that this is a comment that John had said earlier, we have spoken about this many a times, is that we do fundamentally believe in the need for education awareness. We are seeing that. We are hearing that a lot. In areas where the education doesn't reach the intended population; right, whether it's because of the family, because of the parents perpetrating the abuse against the child, the child being under the age of understanding the education, maybe the formal convention of education. We may need to think of alternate forms of education in those areas. Is what do the ownership of the states, what is the accountability of the state and of the stakeholders in terms of protection. I'm not talking about depriving protection that impinges the rights of the child. I'm just alluding to the fact that there must be a parallel complimentary setup that must be put in place where education fails to achieve the intended purpose. So just a thought I wanted to share with you in relation to this discussion.
With that, I open up the floor to feed into this very thought‑provocative topic, discussion.
Anybody want to go first? Brave enough?
How about, okay? So Susie here. And I will take a few more hands before ‑‑ is there anybody else?
Okay. You there, right. So I will ‑‑ now I'm coming back to my convention. I'm giving to the young people first. Okay? Please introduce yourself, your name and your organization that you represent.
>> JIAN: Okay. Hi, everyone. I'm Jian and I'm from ICT Network Ambassadors Hong Kong. Regarding everything that is, you know, the panelists has been talking about, I just want to share from a youth perspective. I do think that, you know, it's not ‑‑ I do think that restriction is not necessary because I feel like if you restrict a child more on how they use the Internet, I feel like they would be more curious as to why you are restricting them. That is based on personal experience because I have a younger brother. And, yes, we don't really restrict him as to how he uses the Internet, but we do tell him this is how you should be using the Internet. Since he is the youngest and I have another older sibling, we are the ones who tell him how to properly use the Internet. I think that it's important for that, like, peer‑to‑peer mentoring, like more ‑‑ focus more on how older youth like me, in our teens, to really teach those of younger age how to properly use the Internet because I feel like they would feel more connected and they would be able to, like, see them as role models, yes. Thank you.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Thank you.
So, yes, please.
>> ROSA LEE: Hello. Hi, my name is Rosa Lee, I'm from Denver, Colorado, and I'm a mom of an 11 and a half, and a 13‑year‑old boys. I adopted with my husband our children two and a half years ago locally in Denver. So I speak broadly with ‑‑ connect with what Janice had mentioned about their brain development. Unfortunately, my children have experienced abuse that has affected their brain development more so than their peers. So their peers may be able to understand the differences and be able to make good decisions regarding PG rated movies and games. But my children cannot always make those decisions for things that are rated age 10, or even age 7 at times. So there's a lot of ways where, as Larry mentioned, protections are in place and really are not a one size fits all. It really depends on the child and it depends on their upbringing and also then the culture perhaps or the society in which they have exposure to.
>> LARRY MAGID: So your children are vulnerable and actually may need protection that other children may not need.
>> ROSA LEE: Yes. Thankfully, my husband works in IT. We have a power strip that controls all of our TV, Blu Ray, X Box and we have to put in a password to turn the power on because we've put every parental control possible in place and they have figured out how to get around everything. And, of course, then have made really poor decisions and then scared themselves with what they've found.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Yeah. So it does speak of the need for specific and attention case by case, right? That's generally true for all the discussions we are having now. Susie, please.
>> SUSIE: Thanks. It's kind of a comment and a question for the panel really. I'm a big personal supporter lots of education and lots of trust for your children, making sure that they have the information they need, whether it's safe sex, drugs, whatever. My kids have hideously liberal parents, so they have all that information.
The thing I wanted to say was that in the UK there is an increase in peer‑on‑peer child ‑‑ children raping children, gang rape of girls. And this is becoming a big issue at the moment. So while the statics may not have changed in terms of people's children being murdered, those sort of statistics, we're seeing a different side of life. My question is, I guess this is as a parent rather, as someone who works in similar field, is do we know the impact yet of what ‑‑ of the access to hard core pornography in terms of relationships, of the access to a type of material that simply just wasn't there when I was a kid? You know, my kids have both seen really, really hard core porn and have seen it for years. That's just a reality now. That's just ‑‑ I wanted to throw that out, what's the long‑term impact?
>> ANJAN BOSE: Anybody on the panel would like to respond to that? Larry, you first.
>> LARRY MAGID: Some of you may remember Nigel Williams who is a founder of Child Net, and a strong campaigner for not only children's protection of rights, but also I believe pornography, against pornography. He made an interesting comment to me one day. Again, he and I took a very different position. I'm your typical American ACLU member type and he was more restrictive. If you look at the vast majority of people, most people would look at pornography, nothing horrible is going to happen. They're not obsessed by it, it's not going to make them violent, it's not going to cause XYZ problem. But some people will. There are always going to be some people. It's a fair observation, and it's hard for me to deny that. That doesn't mean ‑‑ that's true with a lot of things. Mayor Bloomberg wanted to limit access to sugary soft drinks. And I kind of agreed with that, I think obesity is a horrible situation. On the other hand, there are many people that can self‑regulate and don't need government telling them how many ounces of soda they can drink.
I think there is a tendency to look at the problems that exist and assume we need to regulate the entire population because a small number of people are going to see something and react. And whether that's terrorism, whether that's sexual abuse, whatever it is, there will also be a small number of people who react. We knew ‑‑ for example, I don't want to drag this panel into ‑‑ how can I say this? We do know that people who commit crimes may look at pornography. But again, getting back to that correlation, causation, that doesn't mean that people who look at pornography necessarily commit crimes. So I think we need to be very careful about that. I haven't looked at UK statics. I don't know how prevalent they are. I don't know if it's a blip or trend, you probably know more than I do. I just caution you that just because there are some horrific cases that have occurred, that we don't automatically make the assumption these are happening as a result of the Internet.
What we do know longitudinally, we do ‑‑ again, to repeat, since the Internet has grown, since the '90s there has not been overall, at least in the United States, an increase ‑‑ by the way, when I was talking about violence against children, I was also talking about sexual violence. Rape in the United States is down. Now, again that doesn't mean there couldn't be a situation where a bunch occurs. But overall, over there the past 20 years, there has not been an epidemic of sexual crimes against young people that have correlated with the growth of the Internet. So that we know from research. It's impossible to know what was in the minds of the people who committed the crimes you're describing.
>> ANJAN BOSE: Janice, you want to respond?
Maybe can I say one thing the point Larry mentioned and what Susie said? Because they are kind of two different things in a way. You are mentioning the impact of pornography on children, and what are the ramifications of exposure from an early age and so on. What you alluded to, Larry, is the impact of pornography on offenders and the impact of being exposed to pornography and committing a crime. I think there is bit of distinction here, they're two different things. John can probably come into the picture later on, the UK, two very recent cases that led to the consternation. So maybe we'll hear from Janice first.
>> JANICE RICHARDSON: Well, first of all, your example with the SERTA and banning the SERTA is a very good example, because ban anything, restrict anything, and that really makes it that much more desirable, and kids, adults really go out to get it because it's not allowed. But the other thing ‑‑ I don't know where they find this hard porn, actually. I've been on the Internet connector, at least 10 hours a day for 20 years now and I've never come across it.
>> AUDIENCE: I'll help you find it.
>> JANICE RICHARDSON: You'll help me find it. Thanks.
I was very concerned about this and the only real figures I could find were about games. There has been a lot of research on games and very in depth longitudinal research on kids playing games. And, in fact, it seems that the findings are, if you have a group of children who play games, violent games, anti‑female ‑‑ antifeminist games, consistently. You have a second group who just play from time to time. And you have a third group who actually never get their hands on the Internet because they're not online. It is proven that it's the not‑online group that is showing the most violence and who are the most violent. So you spoke about causation ‑‑ and yeah, we don't really know is it because they're deprived of an opportunity? What is it? But I found that that information that's coming out time and time again has sort of killed the debate on violence. And I think that perhaps we ‑‑ it could be applied across other things. I can't guarantee it, but I think that we can learn from the areas where such research has been done.
>> LARRY MAGID: The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the California's ban against violent games based on the expert testimony and research ‑‑ they concluded they could not draw a connect conclusion that violent games was causing violent behavior.
>> JOHN CARR: Zhou Enlai was once asked what the cause. European ‑‑ history, he said it's too soon to say. You know, I'm absolutely clear, I don't know. I can't possibly know. Nobody in this room can possibly know what the long‑term consequences of this new environment are going to be on young people, or indeed any of us.
And I don't think the analogy with the emergence of books in the 15th or 16th Century, whenever it was, or the analogies about television and video, I think they all completely missed the point. Because this is ‑‑ the Internet is such a qualitatively and quantatively different medium. Any of those individual things, that it's simply obvious to me that we are engaged in a big experiment. Nobody can know what the long‑term effects of this are going to be. I think there are early signs from bits of it, bits of what's happening on the Internet that don't look good. Surveys among young females in Britain talking about what their boyfriends now expect of them in terms of sexual behavior, pressures that young men feel they're under, too. All of these things are being shaped and coarsened by things that are being seen in playgrounds and in schools every day. Certainly there has been no period in history when anything like this has happened before. So to kind of cheerfully say, oh, you just don't get it, or you're worrying too much, I think really is not a very satisfactory response. You have to acknowledge, at the very least, these questions need to be considered. And in my judgment so far, we are not getting the balance right.
Now, political bloggers and, you know, political activity on the Internet, there's a whole set of issues as it were, outside of this frame of reference. I've got very little or nothing to say about that. But I do think that there are issues about the kind of content that is too easily available, particularly to young people that do raise these sorts of questions.
And adults and people that have been around a bit longer, they don't know everything, that's absolutely sure. But they've got a degree of wisdom that they've acquired over the years and it's their responsibility as parents to balance all these things together in a way that hasn't been achieved hither to. I don't believe the message coming out of Silicon Valley is the only right way to go. I'm afraid too often people fall for it without thinking critically about what lies behind it.
>> ANJAN BOSE: We have one more hand here; right? So I'll go with you first at the back and then come back to you.
>> People need to identify themselves, by the way, if you don't mind.
>> AUDIENCE: Sorry. I'm ‑‑ I'm from the University. The issue of, you know, finding the ‑‑ looking for the impact of pornography on children or young people, that debate has happened for a long time, pre‑Internet. It's not regulating on age based restrictions on pornography. But we have to find a justification for restricting freedom of expression, freedom of speech. Now, it wasn't based on any ‑‑ pornography was ‑‑ children was perceived risk of harm, an incredible risk of harm as opposed to actual an risk of harm was good enough for ‑‑ pornography material to children. Now the Internet last changed as John said, the quantity and quality has changed so substantially that ‑‑
>> Speak into the microphone, it's hard to hear.
>> AUDIENCE: The quantity and quality of porn available on the Internet has changed substantially has new challenges. Nobody is suggesting that we need to have new controls from a legal perspective for regulation. In p