IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves OBE: Why children are so important this Human Rights Day

Published:  Tue 10 Dec 2019

Today (December 10) is a day that should bring us all together.

It’s Human Rights Day, the day we remember the 1948 signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

These rights protect us all, especially the most vulnerable, and the UN says the UDHR, available in more than 500 languages, is the most translated document in the world.

This year is especially important for us at the Internet Watch Foundation because the theme for Human Rights Day 2019 is “youth standing up for human rights”.

According to the UN, this is a chance to “celebrate the potential of youth as constructive agents of change” and to “amplify their voices”.

The campaign, led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is intended to “encourage, galvanise, and showcase how youth all over the world stand up for rights and against racism, hate speech, bullying, discrimination, and climate change”.

Young people also need their rights protected.

At the IWF, we sadly see young people’s rights abused. We see childhoods snatched away, and youth tainted by sexual predators and people who may believe watching online child sexual abuse is a victimless crime.

People revictimise abused children every time they view or share criminal material online. Children's voices need amplification, and their rights need sticking up for.

Standing up for the rights of children shows who we are as a society.

This year saw us celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a commemoration of an historic commitment by the world to step up to ensure children’s human rights are looked after, and all children are able to enjoy childhood.

With new threats to children rearing their heads on the internet, we need to be more vigilant than ever to make sure children are safe and their rights are protected.

There is enormous potential for good online, and huge opportunities to bring people together, and to make the world a better, more equal place.

But it is also a place where we need to work especially hard to make sure children are looked after, their voices heard, and their rights protected.

Children, especially vulnerable children, need somewhere to turn if they run into trouble on the internet, and they need to know they are not alone and that help is out there.

At the IWF, we are determined to be there to protect children – to remove images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet and to stop the spread of images of their abuse.

Sexual predators and people who would target children must have no where to hide. Now more than ever, we need to work together to make sure children are kept safe.

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