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Date: April 18, 2012

UVic-Led Program Helps Protect Children From Online Predators

Children are less vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation from online predators, thanks to a four-year project led by the University of Victoria’s International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD).

Besides engaging international organizations such as UNICEF and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Child Protection Partnership (CPP) also involved children themselves in developing the strategies needed to protect them.

“We reached out to children through IICRD’s Circle of Rights process where we trained leaders from organizations involved in the partnership to listen to children, and help them take their protection ideas to adults and organizations in their communities,” says Suzanne Williams, CPP’s director and the deputy and legal director of IICRD. “While CPP worked directly with over 400 children in Brazil and Thailand, the strategies we developed can be applied to help keep children safe worldwide.”

The strategies range from Brazilian children using online games to share internet safety tips with their peers at school to senior-level government officials integrating programs to support abused and exploited children. In Thailand, CPP and its partners created a curriculum about online safety for use in Thai schools.

“Law enforcement agencies in Canada, Brazil and Thailand have visited each other’s countries as part of CPP to share expertise and apply that knowledge in their respective jurisdictions,” says Williams. “After visiting Canada, Brazilian police approached their Minister of Justice to establish a centre to coordinate online child sexual exploitation, modeled after Canada’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre.”

CPP engaged more than 70 partner organizations working at local, provincial, national or international levels to create a safer cyber world with children, and was funded by CIDA. Key support also came from Microsoft, the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre, UNICEF and Plan International, which works in 68 countries to improve the lives of children and their families and to alleviate poverty. CPP’s 78 partners in Brazil and Thailand include universities, non-governmental organizations, government and law enforcement agencies and unions.

An executive summary, full report and five-minute video will be available at www.childprotectionpartnership.org.

Media contacts:

Suzanne Williams (CPP director; IICRD deputy and legal director) at 250-507-6970 or iicrd@uvic.ca
Patricia Guidsordi (CPP Project Coordinator in Brazil) at 250-813-1676  -  available from noon to 1 p.m.
Denise Helm (UVic Communications) at 250-721-7656 or dhelm@uvic.ca

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