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Brussels, 4 March 2008

The European Forum for the rights of the child: a commitment for our future

The Forum renewed the commitment of all parties to fight against child poverty and to ensure that the rights of Roma children as individuals are taken into account, as well as to combat violence against all children.

Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, thanked the Member States, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, UNICEF, the Ombudspersons and the representatives of civil society for their support and their participation to the Forum and declared “Children have an important stake in policy outcomes, but they have little power to shape them. They do not vote and they cannot directly represent their own interests in governing bodies. Their ability to influence policy is limited. I like to think of us as the guardian angels of all children. Together, we can make a difference to the fulfilment of children’s rights to survival, development and protection. This is why it is important that we speak to children, and more importantly, that we listen to them.”

The Forum renewed its commitment to develop tools to ensure the effective participation by children, including those who do not, or cannot, go to school or who are socially excluded. Direct involvement of children and increasing awareness are priorities for the Forum: a recent Eurobarometer survey shows that young people consider lack of information regarding procedures, competent authorities and their rights themselves the major obstacles that they encounter when they need help to defend their rights: respondents (from 15 to 18 years-of-age) believe that when children need help to defend their rights, they encounter problems linked to the fact that they do not know how to go about it and whom to contact (78,5%) and that they are not aware of their rights (75,5%).

The same survey confirms the importance that young people themselves attach to the initiatives taken at EU level: more than 85% of respondents think that providing more information to children about their rights and giving more support to organisations working in the field of the protection of children's rights should be priorities at the European level. Respondents are also very supportive (82.7%) towards actions to promote children's rights in countries outside Europe. Making a missing children alert system operational throughout the European Union and involving children more in the definition of policies that concern them are considered actions that should be taken as priorities by 79.9% and 73.2% of respondents respectively.

The Commission launched an initiative for the adoption of a single telephone number throughout Europe to signal cases of disappearance of children, which still needs to be implemented at national level, as well as an initiative to put in place a Child Alert mechanism in every Member State.

The Commission has supported the Mobile Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Content to obstruct the use of the mobile environment by individuals or organisations wishing to consume or profit from child sexual abuse content. The recent Safer Internet Day was aimed to create awareness messages on the safe and ethical use of information and communication technologies. We are working to set up a mechanism to stop on-line payments when purchasing images of sexual abuse of children on the Internet.

The first Forum meeting on 4 June 2007 in Berlin focused on strengthening membership, and discussed possible mechanisms for future participation of children to the Forum and how to protect children against sexual exploitation. A third meeting of the Forum is planned for November 2008 and is likely to address the subject of international adoption.

For more information on the activities of Vice President Frattini, please visit his website at

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