Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office during which Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, presented the international online bullying awareness campaign “Stop Threats on the Internet”, in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Other speakers at the conference were Don Fortunato Di Noto, president of the Associazione Meter; Olivier Duval, president of the BICE (Bureau International Catholique de l'Enfance), Laetitia Chanut, a former victim of cyber-bullying and witness for the campaign, and Flaminia Giovanelli, under secretary of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”.
In the presentation, it was shown that bullying on the Internet is a new form of violence, and the related issue of the time the internet subtracts from family relations emerged. Alongside this there arose the question of adolescents and young people living in a condition of being continually “connected”, a problem about which we all complain, and it was suggested that this might have its origins precisely in parents not spending enough time with them, and in not taking the time to listen to them. It was explained that numerous sociological studies exist, examining the risks linked to the rapid development of information and communication technology, a phenomenon that requires parents to act as mediators of the technological experience for their children. Therefore, there are examples that show that when family relationships are positive it is more likely that the potential of social networks lead to greater inter- and intra-generational cohesion, and where family relationships are poor or conflictual, the social networks more easily facilitate individualistic routes and forms of surrogate relationship. It was also mentioned that, in the globalised world in which we live, it is increasingly common for family members to live far from each other, and therefore social networks may constitute an important vehicle for information and entertainment. However, it is essential to remember that online connection is accompanied by “real”, offline relationships, and that we cannot live alone, wrapped up in ourselves.
Faced with these situations, it was noted that the Church cannot be excluded: emphasis was placed on the opportunities that the Web offers for evangelisation or spiritual assistance, and the need for pastoral efforts in the formation of families. In this way, Cardinal Turkson highlighted that the Holy See, through the ratification of treaties on the rights of the Child, expresses its constant concern for the well-being of children and their families, in the hope that these agreements are able to guarantee the protection of the rights and interests of children, whom St. John Paul II described as a precious treasure, given to each generation as a challenge to its wisdom and humanity.