Dilon William Knowles ©UNICEF Nicaragua/2015/M. García Terán
By Marta García Terán.- Dilon William Knowles is 13 years old and lives in Bilwi in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region (RACCN). He speaks forcefully when talking about the prevention of sexual abuse. “Some fathers and mothers think their children are lying and that isn’t the case,” he says, reflecting on the importance of learning to listen in order to detect cases of sexual abuse against children.
“I realized that a girl who is a friend of mine was being sexually abused,” stated Dilon, explaining that by helping that girl his mother discovered about all the information he knew about the techniques used by sexual abusers, the signs that a situation like that is happening and how to prevent that crime.
His mum was happy that Dilon had learned all of that in the training sessions given by the Network of Child and Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), promoted by UNICEF since 2014 in Bilwi, as well as in the municipalities of Bluefields, Somoto and San Lucas.
Dilon recalls finding out at school about the possibility of attending some workshops where he could learn more about the prevention of violence against children and sexual abuse. What he most liked was discovering more about photography and video. He particularly stresses the traditional animation techniques he has learned, such as “stop motion”, which consists of editing a sequence of still photographs that generate movement and tell a story.
“I want all girls and boys to know what I know,” he says. He has three younger sisters and has already talked to the nine-year-old one about sexual abuse and the strategy an abuser uses. He has made an agreement that if something happens to her she can tell him about in the strictest confidence so that he can help her and warn their mum or some other adult. “She tells me I’m the best brother in the world,” he states. “She thanks me and hugs me.”
Dilon also attends training sessions on computing given by the Network in alliance with the Telefónica Foundation’s Classroom in Bilwi’s Julio Bucardo School. These training sessions are indispensable in a municipality where few girls and boys have any real access to computers or the internet. “Now I can do my school work on the computer,” he says. “I didn’t know how to do it before and I had to pay someone, but now I know how to use Word and PowerPoint.”
Dilon states that he has invited at least 30 friends to follow the messages the Network shares from the different municipalities involved via the “Against Sexual Abuse” Facebook page (www.facebook.com/contraelabuso).
“I’m still using what I learned in the Network,” he says proudly. The Network’s objective may have been to work with adolescents to talk about human rights and prevent different types of violence, but the communication tools and techniques learned allow Dilon to talk about other issues of interest to them. “I use photographs on my Facebook page to encourage people to recycle and throw rubbish in the right place,” he explains. “And I make sequences of photos explaining how to do it, to show that it can be done.”
Dilon is now studying in the second year of secondary school and is doing well. When he finishes school, he wants to go on to study at university, although he has still not decided which subject to do. “I’ve dreamed about finishing secondary school and going to university since I was seven,” he recalls. Dilon knows that having the right predisposition is essential to achieving the goals we set ourselves. He has the words “I can do it” written on the palm of his left hand, “because I can do many things and I mustn’t forget that.”
Since 2014, a total of 150 adolescents from the municipalities of Somoto, San Lucas, Bluefields and Bilwi have formed the Network of Child and Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through ICTs. These boys and girls have received training on preventing violence and sexual abuse through communication and social networks, new masculinities and communication for development.
The Network is a participation and empowerment strategy aimed at achieving a greater impact in terms of the participation and decision making of adolescents in their own municipalities. It is part of the UNICEF #ENDViolence, global initiative for the elimination of violence against children initiated in 2013.