150 adolescents from Somoto, Bluefields and Bilwi in Nicaragua are learning about sexual abuse and how to prevent it by using communication and social media. 46 adolescents, 28 girls and 18 boys from Bluefields were trained in February 2014.
“Every child has the right to live free from violence, and violence against children and adolescents can be prevented” explained Philippe Barragne-Bigot, UNICEF Representative in Nicaragua. He added that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), mobile phones and social networks are excellent tools to diffuse information on this matter, and therefore to prevent it.
“What we miss as children is affection” commented Luis, 11 years old, after reflecting with the workshop group on the various situations of violence children and adolescents may be exposed to.
Ruth, 15 years old and 5th year student in secondary school, said that knowing how to prevent sexual abuse is fundamental, as well as knowing how to use the ICT. “It will be really useful for me, now I can speak on this subject”.
Participation and empowerment strategy
These first workshops held in Bluefields and Somoto were part of a series of 5 different 3-day trainings. During these workshops, girls, boys and adolescents learn digital and audio-visual communication techniques to prevent violence, with an emphasis on preventing sexual abuse.
The programme aims to prevent sexual abuse of children and adolescents by using ICT in the municipalities of Somoto, Bluefields and Bilwi. Its strategy relies on children and adolescents’ participation and empowerment.
“I have learnt lots of things that I did not known before like the various children’s rights” said Britney, who is 13 years old and currently in her 1st year of secondary school. “Sexual abuse happens in Bluefields” she added.
The workshops were facilitated by the Communication and Social Mobilisation Association “Los Cumiches” in collaboration with UNICEF. They are part of a process to strengthen local alliances about children and adolescents’ rights, in which adults and institutions have the main responsibility to accompany children and adolescents exposed to sexual abuse and defend their rights.
The programme belongs to UNICEF’s global initiative #ENDViolence, which started in 2013. It calls upon the public to recognize issues of violence that concern children, and encourages active support for local movements that tackle such pressing issues worldwide.
There are efficient methods to prevent and fight violence against children: support mothers, fathers, families and the others who take care of the children; strengthen children’s capacities to protect themselves against violence; work explicitly to change attitudes and social norms that tolerate violence and discrimination; and strengthen and enforce laws and policies that protect children.