BT protects children and teenagers from internet threats in SOS Children’s Villages across Germany
BT has launched a new internet security solution for children and young people at the SOS Children’s Village in Nuremberg, Germany. A specialised web filter software enables young people to use the internet safely without being confronted with offensive or illegal content. Following a successful pilot in Nuremberg, the software will be made available to all SOS Children’s Villages in Germany. The security solution marks a new step in BT’s partnership with this international charity organisation that focuses on children at risk. The cooperation has been running for more than 10 years now.
As part of a pilot project, BT installed filter software that allows residents of the SOS Children’s Village in Nuremberg to surf the web safely, without staff supervision. The software blocks pages containing content inappropriate and/or illegal for children. Nina Wegner, CEO at BT Germany, said: “This is an important project for two reasons. Firstly because it’s important not to let children use the internet without guidance. And secondly because it gives the SOS Children’s Village the security of knowing that illegal activities such as music downloads, are not able to take place via their Internet connection.”
BT Germany and the SOS Children’s Villages organisation have been cooperating successfully for more than a decade. The initiative is part of BT’s “Better Future” programme, a commitment to use the power of communications to improve lives and ways of doing business. For instance, BT has donated two fully-equipped “mobile PC classrooms” to the SOS Children’s Village’s vocational education centre in Nuremberg. Within minutes, any classroom can be transformed into an IT workspace with internet connectivity.
BT Germany’s aim has always been to provide support that goes beyond plain financial sponsoring. Many BT employees volunteer their time in Nuremberg through workshops where they pass on their expertise and knowledge to the youngsters. “Many of the children are socially disadvantaged and need individual attention to help them on a path to a career and better life prospects,” explains Bärbel Bebensee, director of the Nuremberg SOS Children’s Village. In addition to providing training on safe internet usage, BT people give advice on job applications, project management, intercultural competence and self-confidence. For many years, BT Germany has also held a ‘Christmas Tree Make-a-Wish’ campaign in its Munich and Frankfurt offices. This campaign lets BT staff fulfil the most heartfelt wishes of children living in the SOS villages, from paints, books and games to winter boots. Total contributions by BT to date are in the six digits.
The new web filter is part of a broader offering that BT is making available to the SOS Children’s Villages. As the software solution is hosted centrally in a data centre, all SOS facilities in Germany will now have access to the filter, without the extra cost and effort of installing it locally. The “black list” with the blocked sites is also maintained centrally. However, the SOS Children’s Villages will not simply block problematic pages but have chosen a more sophisticated approach: for example, internet services that can generate costs (like shopping sites or paid content) will continue to be available, but a warning message is displayed ensuring the users understand that a certain cost might incur.
BT’s support to SOS Children’s Villages is not limited to Germany and has recently been extended to a global level. The international cooperation between BT and the global SOS Children’s Villages organisation currently includes a project called “Connecting Africa” that will bring broadband Internet connectivity to 20 communities across Africa.
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About SOS Children’s Villages
SOS Children’s Villages is an international, non-governmental organisation that provides services in the areas of care, education and health for children who have already lost or who are at risk of losing parental care. The organisation was founded in 1949 and today runs more than 2,300 programmes reaching more than a million children and adults in 133 countries and territories. Its work is guided by the spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. SOS Children’s Villages adheres to the principle that every child grows best in a family environment, with caring parents or caregivers, living together with their siblings, in a place they can call home. SOS Children’s Villages works with communities, local partners and authorities to support disadvantaged families around the world, thus preventing family breakdown. When necessary and when it is deemed to be in the child’s best interests, there is the option for children to grow up in a foster family or in an SOS Children’s Villages family, where children are supported, protected and cared for until they reach adulthood. SOS Children’s Villages also aims to influence decision-makers to make changes in policies and practices in order to promote the well-being of children, especially of those without parental care. More information on SOS Children’s Villages can be found at www.sos-childrensvillages.org.
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