UNICEF took down the unsettling report and then republished an edited version on its website a few days after publication. The initial report claimed that children are unaffected when they viewed sexually explicated material.
Shortly after the uproar, the edited version which reappeared on the website has key statements deleted still maintains its position. UNICEF spokesperson Najwa Mekki speaking with the Friday Fax, said, “UNICEF’s position is unequivocal: No child should be exposed to harmful content online.” But Mekki would not say if UNICEF believes pornography is unsafe for children.
Christine Gleichert, Deputy Administrator for Public Affairs at USAID, had a word with The Friday Fax. Representing the USAID, the largest single financial contributor to UNICEF, she said, “The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) takes the issues of internet safety and safeguarding children from harmful content on the internet, including pornography, very seriously.”
UNICEF also responded to USAID that “that it is the unequivocal position of the organization that no child should be exposed to harmful content online.”
The controversial report asserted that not all sexually explicit content qualified as “pornography.” The report also proposed a graded scale to help categorize what pornography would be appropriate for children of “different age groups to view.”
The UNICEF report proposed that a child’s maturity level and evolving capacities considered when regulating access to sexually explicit content.
According to the report, the purpose of the graded scale is supposed to prevent the child’s rights from being violated as access to beneficially sexual material such as sexual and reproductive health information, including resources for LGBTQ education, may be restricted.
The UNICEF report also admitted that some research showed “negative outcomes” linked to pornography exposure at young ages. But that “evidence suggests that children’s exposure to a certain degree of risk…helps them to build resilience.”
According to the report determining what is unsafe for children require carefully balancing their right “to be protected online from sexual exploitation and abuse and violence” against “their rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and access to information.”
By Grace Somuah-Annan|3news.com|Ghana