Safe youth – strong region

Since the Council of Europe signed the Lanzarote Convention and published alarming statistics showing that 1 in 5 children in Europe are victims of sexual exploitation, European countries, including Lithuania and Latvia, are increasingly aware of the need for active, systematic action to protect children.

Understanding the risks of child sexual abuse and the necessary preventive and supportive measures is crucial, so there is a need to raise awareness among children, parents and educators. Research shows that many parents and educators are not sufficiently aware of the risks involved and do not know how to talk to children about sexuality and violence. As a result, children and young people are left alone, believing that talking about sexual violence is taboo. If we don’t talk about violence, it is unlikely that children will have the words and the receptivity to report a crime or support a friend who has suffered from it.

Norway has come a long way in discussing sexual exploitation in society. Thanks to many years of experience in educating parents and teachers, specialists from Norway can provide important recommendations that are necessary to promote public awareness in Lithuania and Latvia. Cooperation with the common goal of preventing the sexual exploitation of children promotes an inclusive, equal and cohesive region with common values. A society free from violence means a secure future in all the countries involved.

Project goals:

1. To promote public awareness of sexual exploitation in Lithuania, Latvia and Norway, focusing on young people as the main target group of the project.

2. To establish strong co-operation between Lithuania, Norway and Latvia and exchange of knowledge between experts in the field of prevention of sexual exploitation in each of the countries.

Expected project results:

1. A preventive methodology developed in Norway will be adapted in Latvia and Lithuania, consisting of a short film and a guide for professionally led discussion with young people, as well as their parents and teachers.

2. Lithuanian and Latvian specialists will be trained on the use of preventive methodology and discussion management.

3. A sustainability plan will be developed to implement preventive strategies in Lithuanian and Latvian day care centers and schools, using a preventive methodology, meeting with young people, parents and teachers.

By implementing a preventive methodology, target groups will benefit from:

• Knowledge of what sexual abuse is.

• Understanding why, to whom and how it can be reported (if you or a friend are experiencing the abuse).

• Insight into how a young person who has experienced sexual abuse can feel and behave.

• Confidence that you will be helped and supported.

• Experience that it is normal to talk about the risks of sexual exploitation – adults are ready for it and will help if necessary.

Project duration: from September 2020 to August 2021

The project is implemented in cooperation with leading non-governmental organizations in the field of children’s rights protection: the Lithuanian organization “Paramos vaikams centras” (Children Support Center) and the Norwegian organization “Voksne for Barn”.

The NGO program is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers to support the development of a strong and dynamic civil society in the Baltic Sea Region and to help expand the capacity of NGOs in the Baltic States by sharing experience and knowledge with Nordic partners.