A pioneering international congress on the risks and challenges to children in the digital world and how to protect them from online sexual abuse will be hosted by the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, from Oct. 3 to 6.
“Child Dignity in the Digital World” is the first congress of its kind and “opens a whole new scenario,” said Hans Zollner, S.J., the president of the child protection center at the Gregorian, at a press briefing in the Vatican.
Today 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 new forms of harm and abuse, including trolling, cyberbullying, sexual extortion, sexting and grooming for sexual exploitation.
“Child Dignity in the Digital World” is the first congress of its kind.
It will open on Oct. 3 with welcome addresses from the Gregorian’s new rector, Nuno da Silva Gonçalves, S.J., and the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Father Arturo Sosa Abascal. Keynote addresses will be delivered by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Baroness Joanna Shields, a British-American who served as the United Kingdom’s minister for internet and security and is the founder of WePROTECT, UK.