The International Center La Strada in partnership with ECPAT International has started training on intervention in cases of online violence and organized the first workshop for specialists of the psycho-pedagogical assistance services. The purpose of the event was to strengthen the capacities of child protection specialists to intervene in cases of online sexual abuse of children.
The workshop was organized in the context in which children are exposed to a high risk of violence in the online environment, as they are the most active consumers of information technologies and, at the same time, the most vulnerable to these risks due to their age, lack of knowledge and abilities. Veronica Maevschi, director of the children’s program at the International Center La Strada, said during the training, “The number of cases of online violence has been growing lately, and children are exposed to a high risk of sexual abuse in the online environment. The internet offers opportunities and advantages, allowing children to interact with others and learn online, while also being a means of entertainment. But these advantages are not without risks, the role of specialists being to identify situations of online violence and to ensure prompt and careful intervention measures in these cases, thus helping children to overcome the situations they are going through.”
Trends show that children use the internet and technologies from an increasingly younger age, and without proper support and guidance from family, educators and the community, they can get exposed to a wide range of risks to their emotional wellbeing. In 2022 alone, more than 1,200 children turned to www.siguronline.md with various unpleasant situations they faced online. The workshop was organized in partnership with the Republican Center for Psychopedagogical assistance.
The training of specialists on the subject of intervention in cases of online violence continued, being also provided for specialists from the residential centers of the public association CONCORDIA Social Projects Moldova.
The workshop participants analyzed the extent and complexity of the phenomenon of online violence in Moldova, addressed the specifics of intervention in situations of online sexual abuse and discussed the actions of specialists in cases of online abuse. Particular attention was paid to the intervention plan in cases of online sexual abuse, based on case studies.
The trainers came up with recommendations based on the experience of specialists of the International Center La Strada, which provides counseling to more than 2,000 children annually on various problems related to online communication. Situations of online violence can be reported to www.siguronline.md, which provides services of information, guidance, emotional support and referral, if necessary, to free psychological and legal assistance for children who suffered from online sexual abuse.
About 50 specialists from the psychopedagogical assistance services and the residential centers of Concordia Social Projects were trained in these workshops. The events were organized in partnership with ECPAT International, as part of the project “Access to justice for child victims and survivors of sexual exploitation”, part of the international initiative A2J.