‘End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children’
Every year, in the first week of July, the major political event – Almedalen Week – takes place in Sweden.
This is a time when political parties gather together with key decision makers, NGO’s and public sector organisations to take part in a range of speeches, debates and 3600 seminars on almost every topic imaginable. The week itself attracts individuals from all walks of life – from the prime minister, to the CEO’s of major companies to individuals who simply want to listen-in for inspiration.
One of the major topics on the radar this year, was the UN’s 2030 Agenda and its universal, all-encompassing Sustainable Development Goals. The seminars covered questions such as how the goals and targets impact organisations and what actions need to be adopted over the coming years to meet them.
The Sustainable Development Goals are both comprehensive, ambitious and an important starting point for every business to consider in order to better our world for years to come. The goals cover a wide range of issues from poverty reduction to the environment to equality.
One of the goals that interested us in particular, is that companies now must address the issue of child sexual abuse. This is stated in target 16.2 – ‘End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children’.
At first glance, this is a target that may be overlooked by businesses that feel they cannot do anything to help. Many companies are ignorant to the fact the child sexual abuse material is being viewed right under their noses.
What we must remember, is that companies and organisations are not isolated silos working outside the community. Companies consist of people and automatically become a reflection of society. The people who sexually abuse children or view child sexual abuse material do not belong to parallel universe, they are a part of our society, and are within organisations.
No matter how hard the truth is to stomach, we must dare to face up to it and bring the issues surrounding child sexual abuse material to the surface. There are a whole host of opportunities for organisations and businesses to act on the problem and help vulnerable children. At the heart of every business, there should be a clear set of values, policies and a commitment to investing in the right compliance tools to prevent that this type of crime taking place within the organisation.
Relevant for all goals on the Agenda 2030, is the last goal, number 17, which is about cooperation and how we must all pull together in order to achieve the other targets. Promisingly, collaboration was a common thread that ran through many of the discussions and seminars during the week.
The seminar that we participated in together with Telia, the Swedish Police (National Operations Department), and NGOs Childhood and Friends focused on collaboration and how innovative partnerships can strengthen and protect children on the internet. The basis of the seminar was to talk about the risks that our children face online, from violations in the form of bullying to sexual abuse.
The key message, as everyone on stage endorsed, was that in order to manage these risks, we must work together. If everyone works as single entities, we are not only ineffective but it becomes impossible to tackle these vast, global problems. Instead, law enforcement, private sector, public sector, NGOs and politicians need to collaborate to find solutions. If each organisation contributes their perspective and expertise, we can pool our resources and eventually make a difference. For every child that we manage to protect or save from becoming a victim of sexual abuse, we become one step closer to achieving our goal – stamping out child sexual abuse for good.