As a partner in the WePROTECT Global Alliance to End Child Sexual Exploitation, we implemented the LEAP project (Leadership in Empowering and Activating Child Helplines to Protect Children Online). This was achieved through a partnership with UNICEF’s 2015/2016 Global Programme to Build Capacity to Tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation.
Click here to read the Child Helpline International and UNICEF – LEAP Report
The aim of the LEAP project was to identify the strengths and weaknesses of child helplines in UNICEF Global Programme’s 17 priority countries in responding to contacts on child online sexual abuse and exploitation. Our #Youth were involved in the project to provide input from a youth perspective, and we received expert support from child online safety expert John Carr and David Miles, Policy Director at the BBFC and member of the Expert Panel for UNICEF’s Global Fund to End Violence Against Children.
The results of the project indicated that there is an urgent need to build capacity for child helplines to manage contacts relating to child online sexual exploitation. Firstly, the child helplines identified that there are obstacles to a child actually contacting them regarding child online protection issues. For example that parents and children not recognising online abuse as abuse, societal stigma, risk of further abuse or lack of free mobile service.
Secondly, the results indicated that child helplines lack knowledge of how to deal with issues relating to child online sexual abuse. The recommendations from the report include training for child helpline counsellors on the terminology, digital skills, referral mechanisms and communication skills relating to child online sexual abuse, and other forms of online abuse.