online education

The Ombudsman is worried concerning the harassment of youngsters on-line

The development of digital technology makes it difficult to find the delicate balance between privacy and child protection.

“For children, the right to privacy does not come naturally.” In their annual report on children’s rights, published this Thursday, the services of the defender of rights Claire Hédon and of the defender of children Éric Delemar looked at the issue of the intimacy of the youngest. Around a basic, ever-present question: how to respect the privacy of children, “enshrined in law” and “indispensable for self-construction”while protecting them?

The question is particularly pressing with the development of digital technology. Today, 82% of children between the ages of 10 and 14 say they regularly go online without their parents, according to a survey conducted by Ifop for Cnil in February 2020. And according to the Directorate-General for School Education (Dgesco), 25% of college students say they have experienced at least one breach of their online privacy.

“Special Vigilance”

If they feel that“The Internet offers an unprecedented opportunity to develop the sharing and building of knowledge and culture”Claire Hédon and Éric Delemar call for a “special treatment” about the potential violence that young – and not so young – Internet users can endure. And to name cyberbullying, cybersexism, provocation to suicide or even online hate.

The report also mentions the phenomenon of ‘sharing’, the online posting of photos of children by their parents. practices today “banalized” which nonetheless represent “Unprecedented invasion of child’s privacy”says the report. “These daily intrusions rob children of their ability to define their own image and identity, which is already inscribed in the public eye.”warn the defenders.

A necessary collective mobilization

Given the exponential growth in the online activities of minors, who, despite the theoretical age limit of 13, are increasingly present on social networks, Claire Hédon and Éric Delemar emphasize the importance of several tools such as “Right to be Forgotten”. They also make several recommendations: include in the law mandatory digital education modules, offer training for parents based on the model of the E-Enfance association, raise awareness of cyberbullying in schools among National Education staff…

The mobilization of the school institution is particularly important, emphasize the defenders. Because, while cyberbullying by its very nature occurs outside the walls of institutions, the harassment often begins in schools, colleges and high schools before continuing online. “This continuity between school and private life gives the child no respite in his experience of violence”, regret Claire Hédon and Éric Delemar. Therefore, all child protection actors must work hand in hand.

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