By Marta García Terán. Twelve-year-old Dilon Williams is a first-year secondary school student who wants to be a teacher when he grows up. This year, he is participating in a UNICEF-promoted strategy known as the Network of Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), which is being implemented in Bilwi, the municipality where he lives.
“I didn’t know what human trafficking or sexual abuse were,” Dillon says. “But now I know where to go to report them.” He also explains that he really likes the relaxation activities they do in the workshops given by the “Los Cumiches” Social Communication and Mobilization Association. These training sessions involve reflecting with the boys and girls about violence, gender roles and power relations based on their own experiences with the ultimate aim of preventing violence against children in general, and sexual abuse in particular.
ICTs are an important part of the training being received by 126 adolescents—including Dilon—in the municipalities of Bilwi in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region, Bluefields in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region and Somoto in the department of Madriz. “Now I know how to take a photograph and record a video,” says Dilon, explaining that while his mum will not let him have a cell phone right now, he has talked to her about what he has learned in this process, including sexual abuse.
Dilon has three little sisters and says that he looks after them. His mum is helping him to go the network training sessions, which involve five workshops that are part of the #ENDViolence global strategy for the elimination of violence against children, initiated in 2013 by UNICEF. This initiative includes calling for public recognition of the problem of violence against children.
Through the Network of Communicators strategy, UNICEF is advocating for all children to live free of violence, as violence against children is a preventable phenomenon. ICTs, cell phones and social networks are excellent tools for disseminating information on the issue, as well as highlighting the situation and therefore helping prevent it.