online education

Youngsters uncovered to the hazards of the web: the human rights defender’s alarming report

In her annual report on the rights of the child, Claire Hédon highlights the increasing abuses, particularly among 10-14 year olds, and recommends greater awareness of these risks among school staff and parents.

“Public exposure of children can be dangerous”. This is recalled in the annual report on children’s rights published this Thursday, November 17, by the services of right-back Claire Hédon and child defender Éric Delemar. The question of the intimacy of the youngest, essential to the construction of oneself, is extremely topical with the development of digital technology.

82% of 10-14 year olds go online alone

According to an Ifop survey for Cnil in February 2020, 82% of 10-14 year olds say they regularly go online without their parents. And according to statistics from the Directorate General for School Education (Dgesco), 25% of college students say they have experienced at least one breach of their online privacy.

In Le Figaro, Claire Hédon and Éric Delemar therefore call for “particular vigilance” regarding the potential violence that young Internet users can suffer: cyberbullying, cybersexism, provocation to suicide or online hate.

The danger of online parental exposure

But the authors also drift away from the parents themselves. This is “sharing,” the online posting of photos of children by their parents. The report underscores trivialized practices, which, however, are seen as “unprecedented invasions of the child’s privacy.” “These daily encroachments rob children of their ability to define their own image and identity,” proponents warn.

In fact, despite the theoretical age limit of 13, online activity by minors continues to increase. To curb this phenomenon, Claire Hédon and Éric Delemar emphasize the importance of tools such as parental controls or the “right to be digitally forgotten”.

Train parents and teachers more

They also recommend enshrining in law the creation of compulsory digital education modules in middle school, offering training for parents based on the model of the E-Enfance association, or raising national education awareness of cyberbullying in schools. So many actions are already underway, but they will undoubtedly require more resources.

For the defenders, this mobilization of the educational institution is essential, because when cyberbullying occurs outside the walls of the institution, the harassment often originates from within. “This continuity between school and private life gives the child no respite in his use of violence,” warn Claire Hédon and Éric Delemar. Hence the need to get all child protection actors to work together.

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