We live in a world surrounded by violence

Dexer Augusto García Alfaro, 15 años. © UNICEF Nicaragua/2015/M. García Terán

By Marta García Terán.- Dexer talks confidently despite the fact the audio recorder is running because he has been working at Radio La Siempre Joven [Radio Forever Young] for several months now. “I talk for almost an hour on air,” he says. “The only time I’m not talking is when I put on music and radio spots.” However, he does admit later “off the record” that he felt nervous throughout the interview.

Dexer Augusto García Alfaro is fifteen years old, lives in Bluefields in Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RAACS) and is studying in the fourth year of secondary school. He recalls that when he went to the first training session of the Network of Child and Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) he was 13 and had a lot to learn.

“I was painting murals with the organization Murales RAAS and that’s how I heard about the training workshops,” he explains, remarking that he liked everything that happened during the sessions. “We live in a world that is surrounded by violence, although it doesn’t appear to be that way, and that’s something I didn’t know,” Dexer comments , while also mentioning that he had heard about sexual abuse and violence but that the process he was involved in made him examine those issues in greater depth and learn more about them.

When asked how he reacts now when he becomes aware of a situation of violence and abuse, Dexer is quite clear: “I react differently now to how I used to. Before, I thought it was normal for someone bigger to hit someone else.” And he tells me that he talks to friends about the issues addressed in the training sessions in relation to the prevention of violence and that at school, for example, he has given talks on sexual abuse in class on several occasions.

The training workshops stressed the use of information and communication technologies, particularly the social networks as a new communication channel commonly used by adolescents. In this respect, the training provided information about how adolescents can protect their personal safety and privacy online and take advantage of this space to disseminate messages on the prevention of sexual abuse.

“I currently manage various Facebook pages in addition to the Network’s ‘Against Sexual Abuse’ page,” says Dexer, referring to the webpage for followers (www.facebook.com/contraelabuso) that the boys and girls from the Network in the different municipalities decided to set up and feed collaboratively and which is administered by Dexer. “We upload materials as we produce and edit them and I continue inviting my friends to ‘like’ it,” he explains. The page currently has more than 1,000 followers.

“I like technology and I like to use it,” he states, commenting that beyond having fun on social networks and Facebook, his experience in the Network has allowed him to make more efficient use of the hours he spends online.

“Communication is one of my dreams for my career and my life,” Dexer says thoughtfully, recognizing that the process he has been through in the Network has played a decisive role in his decisions in this respect. “I’m thinking of two subjects: informatics and I’d like to be a doctor in communication.”

Dexer likes doing radio and is learning audio editing and production under his own initiative. “In part I’m the same person as before I started with the Network because I’m a boy that likes joking around, but no longer from the same point of view as before,” he reflects, stating that he would like the strategy to continue looking more closely at the issue of audiovisual production.

The third phase of the strategy of the Network of Child and Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through ICTs is currently in the planning stage. It will prioritize the implementation of communication for development strategies drawn up by the adolescents themselves, as well as going into greater depth on the production and editing of audiovisual materials for advocacy and the dissemination of information on the issue.

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