My city is not as safe as I thought

By Marta Garcia Terán.- “I feel informed and I can prevent sexual abuse,” says 15-year-old Ruth Noemí Álvarez Zamorán firmly. Ruth has participated in a cycle of five training sessions on the prevention of sexual abuse through communications and social networks in the context of a strategy to create a Network of Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).


“We have learned many things,” stresses Ruth, who comes from Bluefields in the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast’s South Atlantic Autonomous Region. “We didn’t have very much information, but we do now. Now I know how to do radio spots, television spots and how to edit videos.” She has a smile on her face as she explains that she has programmes installed that she is going to use to keep on producing these kinds of products.


Ruth dreams of being a cardiologist, and says that while she is finishing secondary school she is going to use the Internet to watch operations and videos on medicine using a tablet that she always carries around with her. “I don’t usually have access to the internet; only when I go to Acción Médica Cristiana,” she says, referring to the organization in which she normally participates. There is wide digital gap in Nicaragua, where only 13.5% of the population has access to the internet, according to the International Telecommunication Union.
Ruth was also chosen to be editor of the “Against Sexual Abuse” Facebook page (www.facebook.com/contraelabuso), the digital platform chosen by the adolescents in the Network of Communicators to promote their materials and information on the prevention of sexual abuse.


She explains that learning about the amount of different kinds of violence against children and adolescents in her city had an impact on her: “I thought my city was a peaceful one that wasn’t very violent, but as I advanced with the training I realized it wasn’t so safe.”


All children have the right to live free from violence, and violence against children is a problem that can be prevented. Information and communication technologies, cell phones and the social networks are excellent tools for disseminating information on the subject, as well as serving to highlight the situation and therefore contributing to prevention.


During the implementation of the strategy for a Network of Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through ICTs, surveys were conducted with the 126 participants between the ages of 11 and 17 in the municipalities of Bilwi (RAAN), Bluefields (RAAS) and Somoto (Madriz). Among other things, these revealed that 59.5% of the girls have a profile in a social network, compared to 40% of the boys. And 66% of these girls and boys have a Facebook profile.


Adolescents are accessing internet with or without adult supervision. One practice detected thanks to these surveys is that adolescents who do not have a Facebook profile in their own name use the profile of a friend and/or relative they accompany to the cybercafé, paying half of the connection price. In neighborhoods where the connection is more expensive, they form groups of three to access the internet in the cybercafé.

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