The Australian Federal Police is taking 10 Australian school children to London this week to participate in the International Youth Advisory Congress (IYAC), a world first congress giving kids a say in how they can be better protected online.
IYAC, running from 17-21 July, will see 150 youths from around the world participate in forums and presentations along with industry experts and the media to help law enforcement agencies better understand and manage youth safety online.
Federal Agent Kevin Zuccato, manager for innovation and prevention at the High Tech Crime Operations unit, said the AFP selected the students, aged 14-16, from Canberra high schools based on their high online presence and awareness of online social networking.
"They had a high awareness and good knowledge of the Internet; they all do social networking and Instant Messaging and things like that, and they communicate well with other youths," he said.
Zuccato said the young Australians will contribute in a number of ways:
"They will sit in on forums, listen to presentations from representatives from government, industry, law enforcement and the media, and then they'll go away into working groups to come up with solutions to problems they've just heard about," he said.
"All of that will get taken away and made into a charter, a Children and Young People's Global Online Charter, which down the track will be presented by one of the 150 youths to the United Nations to be incorporated into the UN Convention for the Rights of the Children."
The charter will be presented at the World Congress III Against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, held in Brazil in November.
AFP National Manager of High Tech Crime Operations, Andrew Colvin, said that IYAC is an extraordinary opportunity for law enforcement agencies around the world to listen to those who have grown up with the Internet.
"We recognise that our investigators were not born in the Internet era and that can make protecting today's youth a challenge, that is where the congress can help us," Colvin said.
"We have to remember that enforcement activity alone will not solve this issue. Education, prevention and awareness among youth, parents, teachers and the community is required. Every youth we educate and make aware of risks involved on the Internet is a youth potentially saved from becoming a victim."
The International Youth Advisory Congress is led by the United Kingdom Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and is supported by the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), of which the AFP is a member.