VATICAN CITY — For three days last week, about 150 experts in technology, child safety, medicine, mental health and theology gathered in Rome at the Child Dignity in the Digital World Congress to talk about how to keep kids safe online and protect children from sexual exploitation. On the final day, the group had an audience with Pope Francis, who endorsed the Declaration of Rome, a 13-point manifesto that outlines the group’s goals for keeping children safe.

The conference was co-sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Gregorian University and WeProtect Global Alliance. I was there at the invitation of WeProtect’s chairman, Ernie Allen, whose board I served on when he was CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. It was Allen who invited me to write Child Safety on the Information Highway in 1994, which kicked off my ongoing work in online child safety.

The Declaration of Rome, which was drafted by the conference’s organizers, represents the consensus that children should be protected from the degradation of being depicted in child pornography and other forms of “abuse and exploitation of the world’s children.”

The document also calls for “the parliaments of the world to improve their laws to better protect children and hold those accountable who abuse and exploit children” and for “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.”

As the Pope made clear in his remarks, both he and the conference delegates are committed to finding way to keep kids away from “ever more extreme pornography” as well as combating cyberbullying, which the Pope referred to as “a true form of moral and physical attack on …read more

Source:: East Bay – Business

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