The Declaration of Rome: World Congress: Child Dignity in the Digital World
6 October 2017
Pope Francis — “A society can be judged by the way it treats its children.”
Every child’s life is unique, meaningful and precious and every child has a right to dignity and safety. Yet today, global society is failing its children. Millions of children are being abused and exploited in tragic and unspeakable ways, and on an unprecedented scale all over the world. Technology’s exponential advancement and integration into our everyday lives is not only changing what we do and how we do it, but who we are. Much of the impact of these changes has been very positive. However, we face the dark side of this new-found world, a world which is enabling a host of social ills that are harming the most vulnerable members of society.
While undoubtedly the Internet creates numerous benefits and opportunities in terms of social inclusion and educational attainment, today, content that is increasingly extreme and dehumanizing is available literally at children’s fingertips. The proliferation of social media means insidious acts, such as cyberbullying, harassment and sextortion, are becoming commonplace. Specifically, the range and scope of child sexual abuse and exploitation online is shocking. Vast numbers of sexual abuse images of children and youth are available online andcontinue to grow unabated.
The detrimental impact of pornography on the malleable minds of young children is another significant online harm. We embrace the vision of an internet accessible by all people.
However, we believe the constitution of this vision must recognize the unwavering value of protecting all children.