Care of Youth IV


Last October I was invited to the World Congress on the Dignity of the Child in the Digital World which was held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. This is the second part of my post for IgNation. Today I would like to share with you the calls to action from the Declaration of Rome signed by Pope Francis at the end of the Congress and in addition raise a question that perhaps we can reflect upon both as individuals and in our various friendship, work and community groups.

Call 1 – To world leaders to undertake a global awareness campaign to educate and inform the people of the world about the severity and extent of the abuse and exploitation of the world’s children, and to urge them to demand action from national leaders. We might ask ourselves how can we bring this matter to the attention of our national and civic authorities?

Call 2. – To leaders of the world’s great religions to inform and mobilize members of every faith to join in a global movement to protect the world’s children. Do we speak with our friends from different religious faiths about this matter?

Call 3 – To the parliaments of the world to improve their laws to better protect children and hold those accountable who abuse and exploit children. Can we write or speak to our members of provincial and federal government about this issue?

Call 4 – To leaders of technology companies to commit to the development and implementation of new tools and technologies to attack the proliferation of sex abuse images on the Internet, and to interdict the redistribution of the images of identified child victims. All of us reading this blog are users of the internet, we have the possibility of informing the TEC companies that we want to see more progress made in these areas, will we speak out?

Call 5 – To the world’s ministries of public health and the leaders of non-governmental organizations to expand the rescue of child victims and improve treatment programs for victims of abuse and sexual exploitation. If this means helping with fund-raising would we be willing to help?

Call 6 – To government agencies, civil society and law enforcement to work to improve the recognition and identification of child victims and ensure help for the massive numbers of hidden victims of abuse and sexual exploitation. How alert are we to the fact that such ‘hidden victims’ might be in our neighbourhood?

Call 7 – To the world’s law enforcement organizations to expand regional and global co-operation in order to improve information sharing in investigations and increase collaborative efforts in addressing these crimes against children which cross national boundaries. How willing would we be to approach law enforcement agencies if we suspect a crime against children is being perpetrated?

Call 8 – To the world’s medical institutions to enhance training for medical professionals in recognizing the indicators of abuse and sexual exploitation, and improve the reporting and treatment of such abuse and sexual exploitation. Do we think it is important to include such training for our medical professionals?

Call 9 – To governments and private institutions to enhance resources available to psychiatric and other treatment professionals for expanded treatment and rehabilitation services for children who have been abused or exploited. Are we willing to contribute financially or otherwise to the provision of such resources?

Call 10 – To the leading authorities in public health to expand research into the health impacts resulting from the exposure of young children and adolescents to graphic, extreme internet pornography. How concerned are we about the effects on a new generation of young people?

Call 11 – To leaders of the world’s governments, legislative bodies, private industry and religious institutions to advocate for and implement techniques to deny access by children and youth to internet content suitable only for adults. Is parental guidance and control something we encourage?

Call 12 – To governments, private industry and religious institutions to undertake a global awareness campaign directed at children and youth to educate them and provide them with the tools necessary to use the internet safely and responsibly, and to avoid the harm being done to many of their peers. How willing are we to talk to young people we know about these dangers and to help them to use the internet safely?

Call 13 – To governments, private industry and religious institutions to undertake a global awareness initiative to make citizens in every country more alert and aware regarding the abuse and sexual exploitation of children, and to encourage them to report such abuse or exploitation to appropriate authorities if they see it, know about it, or suspect it.

The challenge is there for us all to stand up for the protection of the dignity of children.

Gill Goulding is an Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Spirituality at Regis College, Toronto.

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 01:15h, 23 August Reply

    Thank you Gill!

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