Thai Government and leading internet service providers pledge for child online safety, as risks of online harm rise
BANGKOK, 2 December 2022 – Forming a public-private partnership to create a safer digital environment for children and young people in Thailand, the Royal Thai Government and internet service providers are demonstrating their commitment to tackling the alarming trend of online child sexual exploitation and abuse as well as empowering children to navigate the online world safely and confidently.
At a high-level consultation organized in Bangkok on 29 November, more than 40 senior officials and experts from government agencies on child protection, health, education, law enforcement and information technology discussed and adopted a holistic and coordinated approach to address the alarming increase of online harm against children and young people, exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Led by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security with the support from UNICEF, the consultation resulted in the adoption of an innovative public-private partnership, the Thailand Safe Internet Coalition. Thailand's leading telecommunications companies, including AIS, DTAC and True, expressed their willingness and commitment in partnering with the government, private sector and civil society for safer digital spaces for children and young people.
Founded from a holistic, child rights approach, the Thailand Safe Internet Coalition aims to improve overall reporting of online abuse; enhance coordination among sectors, including the ICT private sector; improve service provision for victims; and build resilience among children, young people and parents to cope with online risks that children and young people face. Its five pillars focus on safe digital experiences; child and youth engagement; accessible and responsive services; coordination and a unified message; and corporate sector engagement.
“While the internet provides unlimited opportunities for learning, communication and creativity for children and young people, it also exposes them to all kinds of risks and threats,” said Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF Representative for Thailand, at the event. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these risks of online safety, as children are spending more and more time online. As the internet knows no bounds, no single organization can act alone in tackling online harm. That is why UNICEF is supporting public-private partnerships to not only help build a safer digital environment but also ensure child rights in the online world.”
“Today marks an important step as the Thailand Safe Internet Coalition is formed,” said Mr. Chuti Krairiksh, Minister of Social Development and Human Security. “It is a new dawn for public-private partnership, creating a safer internet for Thailand’s children. The only way forward is through collective commitment and coordinated action from everyone, and that needs to happen now. May this meeting be the beginning of our continued collaboration.”
According to the report Disrupting Harm in Thailand by UNICEF, ECPAT and INTERPOL, a concerning 9 per cent of children aged 12-17 in Thailand, or about 400,000 children, were victims of online sexual exploitation and abuse in 2021. These incidents include sharing sexual images of children and blackmailing or coercing children to engage in sexual activities through promises of money or gifts.
In Thailand, UNICEF is helping to protect children and young people in the digital space through supporting law reform and working with the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the child protection system covers online safety. Its Disrupting Harm in Thailand report features key evidence and steps to guide the government, law enforcement, social services, businesses, schools and communities in joining forces and acting now.
Agencies and organizations participating in the high-level consultation included the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, Office of the National Commission on Digital Economy and Society, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Health, National Cybersecurity Agency, Thai Media Fund, National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Cooperation, True Corporations, Dtac and AIS.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/thailand.
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