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Child Dignity in the Digital World

World Congress • October 3-6, 2017 • Rome

Children and adolescents make up over a quarter of the more than 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide. This generation of over 800 million young users is in danger of becoming victims of sextortion, sexting, cyberbullying and harassment.

This global problem calls for a global solution. We need an open and thorough discussion to build awareness, and to mobilize action for a better protection of minors online.

‘Child Dignity in the Digital World’ is the first world congress of its kind that brings together key stakeholders and international leaders from all relevant areas.

This pioneering congress hosted by the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome sets a milestone in the international fight against digital sexual child abuse.

The invitation-only congress brings together distinguished academic experts, business leaders, leaders of civil society, high-level politicians and religious representatives from across the globe. This provides a historic opportunity to set the global agenda for the fight against online sexual child abuse and for child protection in the digital world.

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About us

Pontifical Gregorian
University, Rome

The Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, formerly the ‘Roman College’ founded in 1551 by Ignatius of Loyola, today has 2,700 students from more than 120 countries.

The university is one of the most important centres for the training of Church leadership and ministry. Faculties include theology, canon law, philosophy, history and cultural heritage of the church, as well as missiology, and social sciences, and institutes of psychology and spirituality.

For more information visit

Centre for
Child Protection

Founded in 2012, the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) at the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University is a key institution in the global fight against sexual abuse. The CCP is dedicated to the safeguarding and well-being of children and vulnerable persons throughout the world. It provides information on the problem of sexual and other kinds of abuse and promotes preventive measures. The Centre’s fields of activities include education training, interdisciplinary research, doctoral programs as well as participation and organization of international conferences.

The CCP is continuously expanding its network of international partners. Today, more than XX partner organisations worldwide collaborate with the CCP to develop preventive structures.

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Partner of the Congress

Global Alliance

The WePROTECT Global Alliance is a movement that brings together the influence, expertise and resources required to transform how online child sexual exploitation is dealt with worldwide. This initiative is led by an executive Board drawn from key countries, international organisations, civil society, and technology companies. Guided by the WePROTECT Global Alliance Model National Response, we support countries in evaluating and enhancing their response to the online sexual exploitation of children.

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Partner of the Congress


Telefono Azzurro is a non-profit organization, born in Bologna in 1987 and founded by Professor Ernesto Caffo, with the main purpose of protecting and taking care of minors from abuse and violence. It has been for nearly 30 years a landmark for children and adolescents in difficulty. Every day, 24hours per day, Telefono Azzurro is present where there is the need of listening, prevention, awareness and intervention, through telephone lines, on the Internet, through Institutions, and more directly on the field, in schools or prisons.

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Rector's Note

As Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University it is an honor and pleasure to host the World Congress on Child Dignity in the Digital World. It is a continuation of the commitment that this University has been showing since the first Symposium on the sexual abuses of minors Towards healing and renewal was held in 2012. That symposium led to the foundation of the Centre for Child Protection of the Institute of Psychology at this University, a further step to deal with what Pope Benedict called the “open wound” of abuse.

Pope Francis has called on us to renew “the courage that generates processes capable of acknowledging the reality that many of our children are experiencing today”, and to ensure that children’s dignity is not only respected but, above all, defended. And what is more present and pressing for our children today than the digital world? Young people live with the benefits, challenges and threats of the digital era in every country in this world.

No country, no institution, no single human being can solve this problem acting alone. We must be allied in this multi-faith and multi-national effort to protect child dignity; we must understand that we are all responsible for each other in the world.

For these reasons, I am delighted to welcome world leaders from academia, business, religion and institutions from civil society to the Pontifical Gregorian University. I wish them success in their work as they seek to understand the problems that this Congress is addressing, and in building a true ongoing partnership to find solutions, fully convinced that “a society can be judged by the way it treats its children” (Pope Francis).

Fr. Nuno da Silva Gonçalves SJ
Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome

Steering Committee

Steering Committee

The international members of the conference steering committee are committed to finding solutions to ensure better protection of minors in the Digital World.

They contribute their expertise in politics, civil society, research, media, business, and the church as they initiate and manage the multidisciplinary World Congress.

Father Hans Zollner, SJ

Academic Vice-Rector, Dean of the Institute of Psychology and President of the Centre for Child Protection of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome


Rt. Hon. Baroness Joanna Shields OBE

Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom, founder of


Prof. Ernesto Caffo

Founder and President of SOS Il Telefono Azzurro Onlus and Foundation Child and Chair Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Modena


Dr. Ernie Allen

Chair of the WePROTECT Global Alliance


Maud de Boer-Buquicchio

UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children and President of the European Federation for Missing and Exploited Children (MCE)


Dr. Thomas Gauly

Founder and Managing Partner of GAULY ADVISORS


Father Federico Lombardi, SJ

President of the Vatican Foundation Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI




View the Programme

With a mix of keynotes, plenary sessions, workshops and a discussion forum, the Congress will focus on cyber-safety, cyber-education and cyber-responsibility and examine the role of companies, media, society, politics and churches.

The programme is constantly being updated.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Keynote address & opening ceremony

See schedule for day 1
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Plenary sessions & workshops on “Child sexual abuse online: extent of the problem, offenders and victims”

See schedule for day 2
Thursday, October 5, 2017

Plenary sessions & workshops on “Child sexual abuse online: risks, solutions and responsibilities” & Forum “Global action for better protection of minors”

See schedule for day 3
Friday, October 6, 2017

Papal audience & “Declaration on Child Dignity in the Digital World”

See schedule for day 4


Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome

The conference takes place at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Piazza della Pilotta, 4 - 00187 Rome, Italy