Chidren’s rights UP! The European project to combat and prevent child sexual abuse
To create an extensive programme for the prevention of sexual abuse of children between the ages of 4 and 5 years: an ambitious goal that the Chidren’s rights UP! project, in Italy, Spain, Finland and Serbia. Eight schools were selected, two for each participating country, on the basis of some specific criteria that included the presence of a multicultural context. Like every Erasmus+ partnership, the project’s primary aim is to develop an effective prototype that can be replicated in different territories and social contexts. The ways in which this aim is to be achieved are well defined and involve all stakeholders.
The prevention of sexual abuse in children in this age group is an innovative and complex issue. In particular this project intends to have a great impact on European schools, wanting to prepare children and adults to understand what is happening and to know how to behave should they find themselves in risky situations’. It is an ambitious project, which is aimed at all those directly concerned, not only the children but also the adults around them in their daily lives, to enable them to learn how to correctly read possible calls for help.
Partners of the project Erasmus+ Program of the European Union, Fundació Vicky Bernadet, European Federation of Sexuology (EFS), European Psychiatric Association (EPA), Council for Creative Education (CCE), Naoono.
The Vicki Bernadet Foundation
The Vicki Bernadet Foundation (FVB) is a Spanish organisation of recognised prestige and a national reference in the field of prevention and the fight against child sexual abuse. It is a highly specialised organisation in child sexual abuse, with more than 20 years of work experience.
The European Federation of Sexology
The European Federation of Sexology (EFS) is a European federation with the aim of disseminating and investigating sexuality and sex education. The federation has experience in educational programmes at a European level and develops them taking into account the Union’s values on sexuality.
The European Parents’ Association
The European Parents’ Association (EPA) is a Brussels-based European federation of parents’ associations in Europe, which together represent more than 150 million fathers and mothers. It includes the vision of families (in all their diversity) in every project in which it works.
The Council for Creative Education
The Council for Creative Education (CCE) is a Finnish organisation specialising in education. It offers online training in early childhood education based on new 21st century skills and a perspective of respecting and accompanying children’s needs.
Naono is a Spanish organisation with 20 years of experience in the publishing sector and is an expert in the design and conceptualisation of educational products and publications. It has extensive experience working in projects with social objectives.
Child sexual abuse is, according to Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 2011, a form of child maltreatment that affects one in five children in Europe. Children who have been sexually abused are more likely to have severe social, emotional, behavioural and physical difficulties that can affect their lives. However, contrary to what many may think, child sexual abuse can be prevented. Several studies have claimed that teaching children sex education from an early age has positive effects and can reduce the rate of sexual abuse by half.
Chidren’s rights UP! Preventing Child sexual abuse through the promotion of key competences and healthy behaviours in young children from all cultures (CRUP) is a programme targeting children in the age group 4-5 years, their teachers and families. The main objective of the project is to develop a programme to prevent and detect child sexual abuse at an early age based on internal collaboration between children, educational actors, families and other stakeholders. The project aims to be inclusive, being open to all families regardless of race, religion, social status, cultural background, academic knowledge or nationality.
Specifically, Chidren’s rights UP! intends to:
- offer information and suggestions to pre-school teachers to help them prevent and address child sexual abuse in their classrooms
- provide tools to pre-school families for promoting children’s well-being and preventing sexual abuse
- provide adequate tools for teachers and parents to lay the foundations of respectful, healthy and inclusive sex education from an early age.
After 30 months of European cooperation between the agencies and professionals involved, the project has reached its final phase and now boasts a set of tools freely available to users. The website https://childrensrightsup.eu/ is online with content translated into six different languages.
Available to users, there is a guide addressed to early childhood teachers, two fairy tales for pre-school children, teachers and families, an online training course for early childhood teachers, a kit dedicated to families containing prevention materials, and visual materials for the dissemination of the prevention programme.
On 6th February, the outputs were presented at the European Parliament, in Brussels, during a conference to report on the results obtained in all the countries involved.
The presentation event
The project results were presented in Rome, on Wednesday 1st February 2023, at the Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, La Sapienza University during an Event promoted by the Erasmus+ Project Chidren’s rights UP! Preventing Child sexual abuse through the promotion of key competences and healthy behaviours in young children from all cultures.
The panel discussion, moderated by Anna Maria Speranza, organiser of the seminar day, dealt with the topic of the multidisciplinary approach to child sexual abuse. Speakers were Giampaolo Nicolais (Child abuse and neglect as relational trauma: diagnostic and treatment issues), Valeria Carola (Psychobiological consequences of child sexual abuse. Current knowledge and clinical implications), Cristina Trentini (Neurobiological correlates of child sexual abuse) and Silvia Mazzoni (Sexual abuse in family dynamics). Afterwards, Filippo Maria Nimbi, Italian contact person for the project, and Paola Sabatini, Headmaster IV municipality of Rome, illustrated the Italian experience.
The morning session ended with the words of Paola Sabatini, Education Services Officer of the Municipality of Rome, who brought the strong testimony of more than 30 years of activity in close contact with the preschools of the Roman territory. An experience that allowed her to choose without hesitation to join the project Children’s rights UP!
The wish for the realisation of a procedure that could lead to the systematisation and cyclicisation of training on these issues in pre-schools is a way to fight the underground of such delicate situations.
The afternoon workshop “Research on trauma and sexual abuse” was led by Valeria Carola and Filippo Maria Nimbi.