Fourteen-year-old Nordin Uriel Escoto Bayres is from the northern Nicaraguan municipality of Somoto. He studies second year at secondary school during the week and has been a member of the Network of Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in this municipality since the beginning of 2014. This network strategy has also been implemented in the municipalities of Bilwi and Bluefields in Nicaragua’s northern and southern Caribbean autonomous regions, respectively, and involves the participation of 140 adolescents (80 girls and 60 boys) between the ages of 12 and 17.
“I’ve learned to use Facebook and other social networks to prevent sexual abuse,” Nordin explains, referring to the emphasis on ICTs as tools for both disseminating information on the issue and for highlighting the situation and therefore helping prevent the problem. “I’ve learned how to prevent sexual abuse,” he adds, “and how the sexual abuser plans to carry out the crime.”
The Network of Adolescent Communicators also promotes its members reflecting on gender roles and power relations based on their own experiences, all with the ultimate aim of incorporating what they learn into communication products with which to disseminate the message of the prevention of sexual abuse.
Nordin has turned out to be one of the star editors in the radio part of the cycle of five training sessions conducted in each of the three municipalities. He already knew how to edit audio because his grandfather works in loud-speaker public announcements. “I’ve liked audio since I was small,” he explains, adding that he wants to continue studying and to specialize in the area of audiovisuals.
This strategy of the Network of Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through ICTs is part of the UNICEF #ENDViolence global initiative for the elimination of violence against children, initiated in 2013. The initiative calls for the public recognition of the problem of violence against children and encourages support for local movements to address that problem, which is so urgent throughout the world.
Nordin has contributed his grain of sand to highlighting the problem, both through radio spots and videos made with the other girls and boys from the Somoto Network and by sharing what he has learned with others. “When I got home I talked about what we were doing,” he explains. His mother, who works in the Ministry of Government and is a member of the Departmental Roundtable against Human Trafficking, encouraged him to participate: “she told me to go to the workshops, that it’s important for life.”
The Municipal Roundtables against Trafficking in the three intervention municipalities were formally informed of the strategy implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) throughout 2014. Training sessions on the prevention of sexual abuse were also conducted with their members, thus reinforcing the strategy with the adolescents.
All children have the right to live free of violence and violence against children and adolescents is a problem that can be prevented. Information and communication technologies, cellphones and the social networks are all excellent tools in this respect, and their use also allows compliance with several of the rights included in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC guarantees each child and adolescent the right to express his or her views and to be heard (article 12); freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information (article 13); freedom of association and assembly (article 15); and the right to information (article 17), among others.