2017-05-31 15:32:00

Major Gregorian event aims to make the digital world safer for children

(Vatican Radio) A pioneering congress focusing on the fight against online child sexual exploitation and abuse is to take place at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.

Spearheaded and hosted by the University’s Center for Child Protection headed by Prof. Hans Zollner SJ, the congress entitled “Child Dignity in the Digital World” will examine new forms of abuse children can be subjected to in the digital world, and discuss the risks and challenges of the digital age and its impact on the dignity of children.

The congress foresees the participation of global scientific and technical experts and decision makers, and aims to promote appropriate action.
The International event will take place from 3 to 6 October in partnership with WePROTECT Global Alliance. At the end of the congress a declaration will be presented to Pope Francis who is scheduled to receive the participants in audience.

Please find below the official press release for the event:
Rome, May 31, 2017 - Children make up over a quarter of the 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide. This generation of over 800 million young users is vulnerable to entirely new forms of harm and abuse such as trolling, cyberbullying, sextortion, and grooming for sexual exploitation. The international congress “Child Dignity in the Digital World”, will focus on the latest scientific research and technical understanding in this field, bringing together global experts and decisions makers to discuss the risks and challenges of the digital age and its impact on the dignity of children. The congress will be hosted by the Centre for Child Protection of the Pontifical Gregorian University. 
This pioneering congress on the fight against online child sexual exploitation and abuse will be held 3–6 October, 2017 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The focus of the congress is scientific and technical, with a view to promoting appropriate action. The Centre for Child Protection and its partner WePROTECT Global Alliance have invited more than 140 internationally recognized experts from academia, business, and civil society as well as political leaders, and religious representatives from across the globe. 

Prof. Hans Zollner SJ, President of the Centre for Child Protection said “The congress provides an outstanding opportunity to exchange knowledge and good practice on risks and prevention as children navigate this new digital world,” 

Prof. Ernesto Caffo, the Scientific Coordinator of the Congress, added, "We are proud to bring together many of the world's leading scholars and researchers in the field of child victimization. Our goal is to substantially expand the body of knowledge on these complex issues and generate true global dialogue." 

The global congress closes with the “Declaration on Child Dignity in the Digital World” that will be presented during an audience with Pope Francis. Baroness Shields OBE, UK Minister for Internet Safety and Security said: “Our increasingly connected society greatly empowers children, but also exposes them to risks that compromise their safety and wellbeing. To address these escalating global threats we need a broad coalition of government, faith leaders, academia and industry, all committed to protecting the dignity of children in this digital age.” 

At the end of the congress a Call for Papers will be issued, seeking to stimulate new, creative research in this field as well as innovative ideas and approaches. 

With a mix of keynotes, plenary sessions, workshops and a discussion forum, the congress will focus on the fields of Cyber Protection, Cyber Education and Cyber Responsibility and examine the role of business, media, civil society, politics and religions. 

For more information please visit: www.childdignity2017.org 


The Centre for Child Protection (CCP) of the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University is a key institution in the global fight against sexual abuse. The CCP is dedicated to the safeguarding and well-being of children and vulnerable persons throughout the world. It provides information on the problem of sexual abuse and other kinds of abuse and promotes prevention measures. The fields of activities include education and professional training, interdisciplinary research, doctoral programs and conferences. For more information: http://childprotection.unigre.it 

The Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, formerly the “Roman College” founded in 1551 by Ignatius of Loyola, today has 2,700 students from more than 120 countries. The university is one of the most important centres for the training of Church leadership and ministry. Faculties include theology, canon law, philosophy, history and cultural heritage of the church, as well as missiology, and social sciences, and institutes of psychology and spirituality. For more information: www.unigre.it 

WePROTECT Global Alliance is a movement that brings together the influence, expertise and resources required to transform how online child sexual exploitation is dealt with worldwide. This initiative is led by an executive Board drawn from key countries, international organisations, civil society and technology companies. Guided by the WePROTECT Global Alliance Model National Response we support countries to evaluate and enhance their response to online child sexual exploitation. For more information: www.weprotect.org


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