Five youth from Singapore participated in a regional dialogue on “Violence against Children in the Digital World” with Dr Najat Maalla M’jid, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children (UN SRSG on VAC).

The five youth are alumni of the Singapore Children’s Forum (SCF), a platform Singapore Children’s Society organises annually for children and youth to participate meaningfully in matters that affect them.

Some of the topics the youth have worked on regarding the online world include parenting in the digital age and tackling unkind behaviour online. This dialogue presented an opportunity for them to express their views, share and learn with their peers and engage directly with policymakers on an international platform.

Attended by over 100 youth from the Asia Pacific region, the event was held in preparation of Dr Najat’s annual report to governments and world leaders.

Since her appointment, Dr Najat has made it a point to consult with children and youth to hear their views and recommendations on different issues. These range from mental health to online safety.

Adnan, a 13-year-old youth participant, recounted his experience and takeaways from the event. He also shared why hearing directly from children and youth is so important when formulating policies or designing programmes and interventions.

Giving our youth a voice
Youth who participated in the dialogue, including Adnan (in the middle)

“When addressing the issue of violence against children in the digital world, it is crucial to recognise its significant impact on the safety, well-being and development of young individuals. The risks they face, such as online abuse, cyberbullying, grooming, sexual exploitation, and exposure to harmful content, are substantial.

Before the session, I took the time to make my own predictions of the issues and challenges other youth might face online and prepared myself accordingly. The highlight of the event was getting to hear the thoughts and opinions of other young participants. It was incredibly empowering to know that my own ideas were respected and valued by esteemed experts like Dr. Najat and her team,” shared Adnan.

He added that collaborating with children and youth on this topic is not just important, it is absolutely essential.

“By involving us in the conversation, empowering our voices, and recognising our unique insights into the digital world, we unlock a wealth of knowledge and ensure that any approach taken on the issues we face will be truly effective. What truly sets this event apart from the usual gatherings was its interactive nature. It wasn’t a one-sided lecture; it was engaging, interactive, and downright enjoyable. I can’t wait to participate in more events like this in the future.

In a nutshell, fighting against the harms and risks children face in the digital world is a responsibility we all share. It is imperative that we continue to collaborate, empower young individuals and make a tangible difference,” he added.

Click here for a video snippet of the dialogue and hear from Adnan and his fellow participants. You can also follow Singapore Children’s Forum via their Instagram account @sgchildrensforum.

Click here to read the story in Chinese.

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