Listening to children’s voices: exploring online child protection with children
Our member, The Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, contributed to the development of the University of Malta’s study ‘Protecting our Children: Exploring and Preventing Child Abuse’.
The recently published report aims at bringing insight into the complexities of the phenomenon of child abuse and its effects on Maltese society. Moreover, it shed light on possible improvements that can ameliorate the current scenario when it comes to safeguarding children. Thanks to the support of The Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, in addition to the views of relevant professionals, the study has been carried out by also listening to the voices of children who, through a focus group, were invited to share their views and experiences about the use of the Internet.
The discussions with children provided the researchers with an overview of the different factors at play while they are using the internet and how its usage impacts their everyday lives, especially in relation to personal and relational impact, challenging experiences such as cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content and disclosure of personal information. For the focus group to really ensure a platform where children’s voices are heard, The Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society also encouraged children to share their recommendations on what could be done to guarantee safety when using the internet.
The Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society regularly works to develop studies and reports focused on children’s well-being and that, in the majority of cases, also involve consultations with children. Indeed, children’s rights and meaningful child participation constitute an integral part of the work of the Foundation. Specifically, the Children’s Hub of the Foundation is crucial to the implementation of these processes of child participation. It creates safe spaces encouraging and enabling children to have a voice, and at the same time helps adults understand children’s issues through children’s perspectives.