NEWS: UNESCO Conf: Internet Pedophilia Risks Weighed

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Subject: NEWS: UNESCO Conf: Internet Pedophilia Risks Weighed
From: Jyothi Kanics (
Date: Thu Jan 21 1999 - 17:52:38 EST

04:16 PM ET 01/19/99

 Internet Pedophilia Risks Weighed
 Associated Press Writer

           PARIS (AP) _ A UNESCO conference urged Internet providers and
 parents Tuesday to combat pedophilia on the Internet but stopped
 short of calling for the global legal framework many had hoped for.
           Some of those attending the conference of the U.N. Educational,
 Scientific and Cultural Organization said the recommendations,
 passed by 325 experts from 40 countries, were not tough enough.
           ``The plan of action doesn't deal with the specific dangers of
 child pornography and pedophilia in cyberspace,'' such as chat
 groups, said Debbie Mahoney, president of the California-based
 Safeguarding Our Children _ United Mothers.
           Before, pedophiles were isolated, said Mahoney, whose
 10-year-old son was abused 37 times by a neighbor. ``Now they are
 online, telling each other that they're OK.''
           But experts said they ran into the problem of differing
 definitions of pornography throughout the world, and different ages
 of consent.
           ``It is difficult to come up with common standards when we don't
 even have an internationally established definition of child
 pornography,'' said Ofelia Calcetas-Santos of the Philippines, a
 U.N. expert on the sale of children, child prostitution and child
           The UNESCO conference, which ended Tuesday, called for
 self-regulation among Internet providers to prevent children from
 becoming victims of abuse and to make sure the 15 million kids
 surfing the Internet don't see the sordid scenes of child
 pornography accessible on many Web sites.
           The plan of action also calls for UNESCO to play a key role in
 collecting and diffusing legal information concerning pedophilia
 and child pornography online. And it calls for close cooperation
 among governments, international agencies, the computer industry,
 educators and the media.
           The plan recommends that parents use filters and screening tools
 and calls for aggressive information campaigns about the long-term
 harm suffered by sexually abused children.
           It also urges the creation of national hot lines and an
 international ``electronic watch tower'' where abused children and
 their families can turn for immediate help.
           ``UNESCO has a real, vital role to play in forcing the Internet
 service providers to confront the issues,'' said Agnes Fourier de
 Saint-Mauri, who heads Interpol's special group on crimes against
           The emphasis on self-regulation among providers disappointed
 some attendees. Malta Marcovich, of France's Movement Against
 Pornography and Prostitution, called it ``ridiculous.''
           ``We have laws against the incitement of racial hatred. We need
 similar laws to combat the incitement of child pornography and
 pedophilia,'' Marcovich said.

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