Tag Archives: PRIVATE SECTOR

Girls look at a mobile phone at All Children Education (ACE), a private school for immigrant children, in Philipsburg, the capital. Most of the students lack legal documentation of their immigration status. Open since 2001, ACE had been one of the few schools for undocumented child immigrants prior to the 2010 education reform that permitted their attendance at public schools.

In September 2011, Sint Maarten, a year after gaining its autonomy from the Netherlands, continues working to advance the welfare of its children. Nevertheless, like its sister islands in the Caribbean – Aruba and Curaçao – Sint Maarten remains part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and bound by its international treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). To assess the status of Sint Maarten’s children, UNICEF was invited to undertake a ‘situation analysis’ – UNICEF’s core methodology to define child welfare in the context of an array of social, economic, political, institutional and historic factors. The aim was to evaluate progress and challenges in realizing the rights of children and women in the country and to make recommendations for policies and social actions to improve these conditions. The analysis noted Sint Maarten’s generally favourable economic status but also its high dependency on tourism, which provides limited employment options for islanders and makes them highly vulnerable to global economic downturns; by 2010, unemployment rates had surpassed 12 per cent. Child health indicators have improved in key areas – under-five child mortality rates were reduced from 12.7 per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 7.6 per 1,000 live births in 2008. However, unlike Curaçao and Aruba, Sint Maarten has limited healthcare insurance, available only to those who hold a legal job, leaving the families of the unemployed and undocumented immigrants to pay out of pocket. Additionally, although the country’s vaccination programme for children aged 0¬

What can mobile operators do to protect children from violence?

Girls look at a mobile phone at All Children Education (ACE), a private school for immigrant children, in Philipsburg, the capital. Most of the students lack legal documentation of their immigration status. Open since 2001, ACE had been one of the few schools for undocumented child immigrants prior to the 2010 education reform that permitted their attendance at public schools. In September 2011, Sint Maarten, a year after gaining its autonomy from the Netherlands, continues working to advance the welfare of its children. Nevertheless, like its sister islands in the Caribbean – Aruba and Curaçao – Sint Maarten remains part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and bound by its international treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). To assess the status of Sint Maarten’s children, UNICEF was invited to undertake a ‘situation analysis’ – UNICEF’s core methodology to define child welfare in the context of an array of social, economic, political, institutional and historic factors. The aim was to evaluate progress and challenges in realizing the rights of children and women in the country and to make recommendations for policies and social actions to improve these conditions. The analysis noted Sint Maarten’s generally favourable economic status but also its high dependency on tourism, which provides limited employment options for islanders and makes them highly vulnerable to global economic downturns; by 2010, unemployment rates had surpassed 12 per cent. Child health indicators have improved in key areas – under-five child mortality rates were reduced from 12.7 per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 7.6 per 1,000 live births in 2008. However, unlike Curaçao and Aruba, Sint Maarten has limited healthcare insurance, available only to those who hold a legal job, leaving the families of the unemployed and undocumented immigrants to pay out of pocket. Additionally, although the country’s vaccination programme for children aged 0¬

© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-2000/LeMoyne

Despite the continuous development of the Latin American and Caribbean region, violence against children, especially against girls, is still prevalent. Most of the times violence against children goes unnoticed, unheard, or even unreported, impacting children for life. Only a small proportion of acts of violence, exploitation and abuse are reported and investigated, and few perpetrators are held accountable.

Facing these grim realities, we want to understand the role of the telecommunications industry, particularly mobile operators, in ending violence.

To start, they can collaborate with child helplines that connect children with youth care centers through whatsapp messages, text messages, mobile applications or free calls. Through these services, children receive assistance when they are victims of physical abuse, neglect, bullying, cyberbullying, or other forms of violence.

According to Child Helpline International, the global network of helplines, more than 200,000 children have contacted such lines during 2012 and 2013 in our region. In most cases (19%), children asked for assistance and intervention in suspected cases of abuse or violence.

Led by the GSMA, the association representing the mobile industry at a global level, mobile operators cab facilitate young users’ access to these lines through free calling and helpline promotion and dissemination support.

Another fundamental contribution of mobile operators and other providers of internet services is to prevent the misuse of their networks and services to disseminate child sexual abuse content. It is essential that more companies work together, in collaboration with government, to create and promote hotlines in each country. This will allow better blocking and faster deleting of such content online. Fortunately, countries like Peru and Colombia are already advanced in their blocking systems, and other countries are showing significant progress, thanks to the leadership of Millicom/Tigo, Telefonica, and Governments.

INHOPE, the network that brings together 51 hotlines around the world, processed 89,758 url complaints regarding child sexual abuse material content online in 2014; 63% more than in 2013. From all these websites or pages, almost half (48%) had their ‘hosting’ in the Americas and the vast majority of victims (72%) were children between 9 and 12 years old. Despite the progress, it is difficult to understand why in our region, company networks are still being misused to access websites that have been blocked for many years in other countries.

Mobile operators should also continue working with parents and educators to promote a responsible and safe use of technology. Likewise, adults should also engage in this online experience. It’s understandable that it is not easy for them because children know more about technology. Yet, children are the ones surfing online without their parents’ knowledge or any type of supervision. Another opportunity for collaboration would be generating mechanisms to identify pre-paid users that are under 18 years old in order to receive a differentiated service.

We acknowledge that everyone can and should do more to promote a safer digital environment for children. This is why UNICEF, as part of our work to promote children’s rights in the technology sector, launched ‘Stand Up Mobile’. The campaign shows, through humorous skits, children’s use of mobile phone and promotes particular actions for mobile operators to protect children online.

The skits are being watched in the Latin American region through Comedy Central and Paramount Channels with the support of Viacom.  The mobile operators’ response has, in general, has been positive, and we are reaching them with our message using a different approach.

So, what do you think? Here you can see the spots featuring comedians Ricardo Quevedo, Juan Barraza and Fabrizio Copano with English subtitles:

Marcelo Ber is the Specialist on Business and Child Rights at the UNICEF Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office