May 5, 2021 marking Italian National Day against Paedophilia, the child line Telefono Azzurro is bringing
institutions, media and national and international experts together to respond to a phenomenon that is in dangerous growth: the sexual abuse of minors, both on and offline, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The event streamed live from the Website and Facebook page of Telefono Azzurro, will include presentations from Child eSafety managers at Google, Facebook and Microsoft on the latest developments in promoting child dignity and safety online. There will also be feedback on the current risks posed by the context of the pandemic from the Intergroup on Children’s Rights Maud de Boer Buquicchio, President of Missing Children Europe

Cardinal Sean O’ Malley, TutelaMinorum President together with founding members Marie Collins, Prof. Baroness Shelia Hollins and Fr. Hans Zollner SJ are presenting during the day.

The Internet and new digital technologies have increased the risk for minors to become victims of sexual solicitation and subsequent abuse. In addition, with the pandemic, there has been a worldwide increase in cases of violence, both online and offline, with grave social repercussions. Victims of sexual violence in childhood or during adolescence, in fact, are more likely to develop emotional and behavioral disorders and even to attempt suicidal acts. This is demonstrated by the data of the Listening and Counseling Center 1.96.96 of Telefono Azzurro which recorded an average of about 6 cases per month of sexual abuse offline and 5 online (2020 data): these requests for help came primarily from Lombardy (20% offline and 26% online). The findings of the Emergency Childhood Service 114 also show an increase in cases of sexual abuse of minors, with an average of about 8 cases handled per month.

Professor Ernesto CAFFO

Dr. Ernesto Caffo is the founder of Telefono Azzurro and a member of the Pontifical Commision for the Protection of Minors

“Undoubtedly, new technologies are improving the quality of life for millions of children and adolescents around the world, providing an increased opportunity for their education and personal growth. At the same time, however, digital technologies also carry risks and negative effects that must be carefully considered,” said Prof. Ernesto Caffo, President and Founder of Telefono Azzurro. “The biggest challenge for us adults is to ensure that young people have safe access to these technologies: in fact, the web is also frequented by perpetrators and children. The most vulnerable of these children can easily become prey to different types of abuse, such as sextortion, revenge porn and online grooming. Governments, the non-profit sector, institutions, academia and civil society should join efforts and commit to protecting the dignity of children and adolescents worldwide,” Caffo concluded.

In the afternoon, the agreement reached between the Parliament and the European Council on the temporary derogation to the ePrivacy Directive will be discussed.

The morning session event will be attended by: Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi of Bologna, Elena Bonetti, Italy’s Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family; Patrizio Bianchi, Italy’s Minister of Education; Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna; Ernesto Caffo, President Telefono Azzurro; Pietro Sebastiani, Ambassador of Italy to the Holy See; Carla Garlatti, Italy’s Guarantor Authority for Childhood and Adolescence;

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State opens the afternoon session which will hear from Adrien Taquet, Secrétaire d’État auprès du ministre des Solidarités et de la Santé, chargé de l’Enfance et des Familles; Ethel Quayle, Professor of Forensic Clinical Psychology at University of Edinburgh; Valerie Sinason, Child Psychotherapist and Psychoanalyst; Mary Anne Layden, PhD, psychotherapist, Director of Education at the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania, Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program and Director of the Social Action Committee for Women’s Psychological Health and Anthony Mannarino, PhD, Director of the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh.