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Awareness Awakening

Raising Awareness about sexual, emotional and physical violence against children is a three year collaborative project of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and the Ministry of Welfare. It harks back to The Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, the so-called Lanzarote Convention, which was enacted in Iceland in the year 2011. Raising Awareness operated from 2012 to 2015.

The Lanzarote Convention is the most extensive international agreement that has been made about this subject. The objective of the convention is to promote powerful and effective preventive measures to prevent sexual violence against children, protect the rights of children who have suffered sexual violence and promote collaboration within and between states against any kind of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse against children.

The purview of Raising Awareness falls under Chapter II of the convention which stipulates the responsibility of authorities to make necessary arrangements to ensure education and preventive measures in the field. Education and preventive measures on the basis of the convention were aimed at children, people who work with children or in connection with children, the justice system and the public.

The Lanzarote Convention is fundamentally based on stipulations from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child from 1989 (here after named the Child Convention) but with the Lanzarote Convention an attempt is made for the first time to implement further duties of individual states in its specific judicial areas. The Child Convention was validated in Iceland in 1992 and enacted on March 6th 2013 by Act no. 19/2013. The Child Convention is based on the fundamental vision that children need special protection and care, that they are more sensitive than adults to their externalities, more vulnerable to exploitation and violence and that it is not as easy for them as for adults to influence their most immediate environment. Concurrently, much emphasis is placed on them being active participants in society as independent individuals with rights and responsibilities appropriate for their age. This perspective of children's judicial position was the basic motif of all Raising Awareness projects.

One of the main objectives of Raising Awareness has been responsibility for education and production of educational material about sexual, emotional and physical violence against children. By the efforts of Raising Awareness diverse educational material has been produced for various age groups, parents and people who work with children or in connection with children. Courses have also been held as well as conferences where several specialists have shared their expertise. An extensive review of Raising Awareness activities and its future vision can be found in the project management‘s report.

Here below an overview is given of the largest Raising Awareness projects

Education for children

On the basis of the Lanzarote Convention and the Child Convention, educational material for children has been produced by the guiding light of ensuring that children receive information about the threat of sexual violence and how they can protect themselves as well. Special emphasis has been placed on risk situations that involve the use of new information- and telecommunications technology. The education is always produced on the basis of children's rights to protection, care and necessary assistance as well as their right to activity and participation in matters pertaining to them.

Youngest level of primary school - The Kids on the Block

Krakkarnir í hverfinu

Puppet show for 2nd grade of primary school. With the show it is endeavoured to educate young children about their right to not live with violence and make it easy for them to tell about such matters.

Results of research indicate that The Kids on the Block has had an impact on the school community, that the show is giving children an opportunity to express themselves about violence they suffer and that it contributes to personnel reporting suspicion or certainty about a child having suffered violence.

Intermediate level - Stand by Yourself

Stattu með þér!

A short film about self-respect, violence and setting boundaries. It has been shown to students at intermediate level in all primary-, intermediate- and secondary schools in the country. The short film includes teaching guidelines that are educational for parents at the same time about the importance of discussing these matters with children.

  • Stand by Yourself is texted in six languages: Danish, English, Icelandic, Polish, Thai and Spanish. The short film is accessible here: www.vel.is/stattumedther

Secondary level/upper secondary level - Get a Yes

Fáðu já!

A short film about the boundaries between violence and sex. It has been shown in all 10th grades in the country and most upper secondary schools. The short film includes teaching guidelines that are educational for parents at the same time about the importance of discussing sex and sexual violence.

  • Get a Yes is texted in seven languages: Danish, English, Philippino, Icelandic, Polish, Thai and Spanish. The short film is accessible here: www.vel.is/faduja

Results of surveys show that in the premiere year of the film almost all adolescents in 10th grade in Iceland had seen it; approximately 95% of students, that their understanding of the boundaries between sex and violence had increased as well as the film having had a positive influence on their view of the importance of consent in sex.

Victims of sexual violence and family - The Way Forward

Leiðin áframEducational films about the judicial system for children and their families. These are two videos that are called The Way Forward for 14 year olds and younger and The Way Forward for 15 year olds and older. In them the procedure within the judicial system after a sexual violation has been committed is followed. The objective of the production of the films is to provide information that minimises fear and uncertainty that the victim has about the next steps, to make it easy for them to seek assistance and to guard their rights.

  • The Way Forward is texted in five different languages: Danish, English, Polish, Spanish and Thai. The videos are accessible here: www.leidinafram.is

Education for adults

On the basis of the Lanzarote Convention and the Child Convention, educational material for parents and people who work with children was produced under the guiding light of raising awareness about the protection and rights of children. The objective is also to ensure sufficient knowledge of violence against children, methods to discern such things and ways to respond if a child informs of violence. The education includes information about how obligatory reporting duty by professionals is greater than their confidentiality on the job. Raising Awareness set up a social network of personnel from all institutions and organisations relating to the field. It covers over 1500 representatives and has been used to share information about the various educational projects of Raising Awareness.

Educational treatise for school personnel - Violence against children - the role of schools

Raising Awareness made a contract with the National Centre for Educational Materials about the production of a handbook about violence against children for school personnel (only published in Icelandic). Its objective is to inform teachers and other school personnel about the characteristics and impact of violence on children and draw attention to preventive measures, intervention and resources that are in place to ensure, as well as possible, the wellbeing of students.

Educational treatise for judicial system personnel - Sexual violence against children. Case procedure of the judicial system and judicial protection

Raising Awareness made a contract with the Ármann Snævarr Reasearch Institute of Family Issues about the production of an educational treatise about case procedures within the judicial system and judicial protection of children in sexual violence cases (only published in Icelandic). The objective is inter alia to discern main principles of primary international conventions and outline those items which must be borne in mind during the judicial system procedure of cases about sexual violence against children. It discusses roles, work methods and the interplay of different parties within the judicial system and detects how case procedures may be carried out in order to ensure exemplary work methods regarding sexual violence against children.

Educational conferences for professionals

Eighteen educational conferences were held under the auspice of Raising Awareness throughout the country during the years 2012-2014. They were intended for people who work with children and/or in connection with children. Primary specialists in the field gave talks and ministers of those ministries which Raising Awareness falls under delivered addresses.

Results of a success survey which Raising Awareness conducted indicates that the success of the educational conferences is considerable. Respondents were for the most part pleased with the educational conference which they attended and felt that it had been useful in their work as well as being interested in attending another comparable educational conference.

Courses for people who work with children

Courses for teachers

Raising Awareness and the National Centre for Educational Materials held the course Gender-like Journey – course about gender education across study subjects for teachers at intermediate- and secondary level. The course was held on the basis of the European Council's Pestalozzi programme on job development and teacher training. The objective of the course is to strengthen the skills and teachers' confidence to implement gender perspectives in their teaching.

Courses for the judicial system

Leading up to the publication of the educational treatise, Sexual Violence against Children. Case procedure by the judicial system and the judicial protection of children, courses were held which were based on the educational treatise and tailored to people who work in the field with children or are in contact with children. The publication of the educational treatise has then been followed up with new courses in Reykjavík and Akureyri.

Raising the public's awareness

On the basis of the Lanzarote Convention, Raising Awareness endeavoured to increase the public's knowledge of violence against children and to encourage discussion about the matter in the media. Raising Awareness worked on this in three ways:

Postcards

The duty reporting system about violence was specifically stipulated in a postcard to the public which was delivered to all homes in March 2013. The objective of the postcard was to remind the public of the serious subject that violence against children is and the people's duty to report to child protection if suspicion arises about a child living with violence or abuse. The postcard was in Icelandic.

Briefs and summaries

Raising Awareness compiled available educational material about violence against children and made an overview of public parties relating to the protection of children in Iceland.

Promotion of projects

Emphasis on involvement of the media in promotional work was on the basis of a special stipulation in the Lanzarote Convention about encouraging the media to provide relative information. In the Raising Awareness agreement with contractors, stipulations were listed about promotional work and media involvement, where the handling of deliverables was promoted and they were encouraged to distribute the material onwards and maintain a discussion about its content.

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