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World Day for Prevention
of Child Abuse - 19 November ©


2009 :     Geneva report  
2008 :     Geneva report      (Global report in preparation)
2007 :     Geneva report     Global report  
2006 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2005 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2004 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2003 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2002 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery
2001 :     Geneva report     Global report     Photo Gallery



Geneva Report 2003

Round Table:
Progress in preventing child abuse – Annual review II

on the occasion of
World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse - 19 November 2003
Geneva, Switzerland

Opening Address: Elly Pradervand, WWSF - Executive Director
International Coalition Report 2002-2003: Laure Domeniconi, WWSF Children's Section
Moderator: Brigitte Polonovski, International Council of Women - Vice President

Prevention in Switzerland

  • Ville de Genève – Délégation à la petite enfance, Marie-Françoise de Tassigny
  • Federal Office of Police – Swiss Coordination Unit for Cyber crime Control (CYCOS), Mauro Vignati
  • Conférence des Evêques Suisses
  • Action Innocence Geneva, Florence Astié
  • C.T.A.S. Association-Centre de consultation pour victimes d'abus sexuels, Josiane George and Elisabeth Ripoll
  • Télévision Suisse Romande TSR, William Heinzer

Prevention around the world:

  • STOP IT NOW - UK, John Brownlow
  • International Operation Child Focus, Belgium, Tessa Schmidburg
  • Buakhao White Lotus Foundation, Thailand, Catherine Nickbarte-Mayer
  • Terre des Hommes Lausanne, Bernard Boëton
  • NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Denise Allen
  • Femmes et Enfants du Monde, France, Jacqueline Grevy and Pierre Gioanni

Prevention in UN Agencies:

  • UNHCR, Christina Linnér - Refugee Children
  • WHO, Dr. Alexander Butchart, Department of injuries and violence prevention

Round Table Summary

Elly Pradervand, Executive Director, Women’s World Summit Foundation WWSF - Switzerland

After welcoming and acknowledging panelists, sponsors and participants, and expressing regrets of the last minute cancellation by the Conférence des Evêques Suisses, Elly Pradervand reminded participants that the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse was launched in 2000 in response to an article published in the Swiss daily "Le Temps", announcing the launch of an "International Day for pedophilia - 25 April" on the Internet.

Four years after launching the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse, and thanks to the large WWSF network, 500 organizations from over 100 countries now mark the World Day and participate in the creation of a culture of prevention of child abuse by organizing activities and events on 19 November.

In Geneva, for the second year, WWSF organized a Round Table on the theme “Progress in preventing child abuse – Annual review”.

Laure Domeniconi, Children’s Section Coordinator, WWSF - Switzerland

Presenting examples of NGO activities marking the World Day, Laure Domeniconi mentioned some of the ambitious programs organized on 19 November: i.e. Proclamation by the Mayor of Los Angeles of 19 November 2003 as World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse in the city of Los Angeles, in response to an invitation sent by the International Child Abuse Network - yesICAN; Declaration by the government of Costa Rica to proclaim 19 November a National Day for Prevention of Child Abuse; Dissemination in many countries of prevention programs in schools and local communities; Insertion of the World Day in school calendars; Creation of national coalitions for prevention of child abuse, etc.

Local and/or national activities and events not only inform and sensitise the population on the issue of child abuse but focus primarily on prevention measures. WWSF notices a real commitment by coalition members, which include organizations for parents, children and schools, and associations of local and national authorities, etc. to mark the World Day and take a stand for effective prevention programs.

Thanks to the many reports received from NGO coalition members, WWSF can monitor prevention activities around the world and publish an annual impact report which is available upon request and $on Internet (

Marie-Françoise de Tassigny, Chief of the Délégation à la petite enfance, City of Geneva - Switzerland

Madame de Tassigny first presented a definition of prevention: a series of measures aiming at avoiding accidents, diseases to appear or worsen, and finding means to limit repercussion. This definition focuses on risk factors and has an added value of physical and psychological health promotion. That is the reason why the community has to take action in favor of childrens' and adults' health, and for all concerned actors to be more aware and able to reconcile global and individual aspects.

Prevention requires that people become more knowledgeable and open-minded. It is absolutely vital that child caregivers be attentive to the stages a child goes through (any signs of distress, etc.). To carry out preventive socio educational programs, it is necessary that the people involved devote enough time to examining the situation.

In Geneva, there are several departments that take action at different stages of a child's development. However, and unfortunately, there is often duplication. There are many complex situations, which illustrate the lack of coordination and sometimes efface the main actor who is sincerely concerned.

Madame de Tassigny asked what measures can be taken to avoid competition between services offered by too many professionals. In a community, developing psycho-social systems of quality must take into consideration that there can be dysfunctional support systems. According to Mrs. de Tassigny, new possibilities occur by strengthening cooperation. To achieve this, everyone should pass on information and work on the problem.

Mauro Vignati, Federal Office of Police / Swiss Coordination Unit for Cyber crime Control (CYCOS) - Switzerland

The Swiss Coordination Unit for Cyber crime Control (CYCOS) is the central office where persons can report suspect Internet subject matter including hardcore pornography (sexual acts with children, animals, human excrement or acts of violence); depiction of violence; extremism and racism.

Operational since January 2003, the Coordination Unit provides support to the Confederation and Cantons in the following three areas:

  • Monitoring: Investigations on the Internet to identify criminal misuse of the Internet and initial processing of reports regarding suspect Internet subject matter.
  • Clearing: Verification whether the suspect subject matter constitutes a criminal offence, coordination with ongoing proceedings and referral of the case to the relevant prosecution authorities at home and abroad.
  • Analysis: Nationwide analysis of cyber crime. Ongoing analysis of the situation in Switzerland, description of universal criminal techniques and methods, statistics and trends.

Cyber crime consists mainly of spams, hard pornography (essentially pedo pornography), and general pornography. In May 2003, CYCOS started an active research and found more and more illegal materials: films, photos, audiotapes, etc. People exchange this kind of material through files and chat rooms where adults try to contact children. Their titles often indicate that the material is pornographic.

Only 1/4 of identified cases were transmitted to the Canton of Geneva. Most other cases concern big cantons like Zurich and Bern.

Florence Astié, Psychologist and responsible for prevention in schools, Action Innocence Genève - Switzerland

Action Innocence Genève is involved in preventing risks linked to the use of the Internet. Its work involves information campaigns for the general public; prevention sessions in private and public schools; distribution of prevention support materials (a mouse pad with “10 commandments for a young internaut”); cooperation with political authorities to help advance legislation on Internet crime involving Internet professionals, especially Internet providers, in order to prevent children's unlimited access to any kind of material on the Internet.

The Association is the first to have developed abuse prevention programs for use of the Internet in schools. The program, called “Surfing with care on the Internet”, was launched in January 2002 in nearly 300 classrooms (Canton of Geneva and Vaud and in Monaco). The Association focuses on children aged 8 to 15 (target age 10 to 12). The goal of this program is to encourage children to be wary when they surf the Net. Presentations generally last 45 to 90 minutes, are interactive, and improve the sharing of experiences with children. The Association also tries to classify the advantages and disadvantages of Internet. The main message to get across to children is “Be careful, you don’t know who is behind the screen”.

Josiane George, President, Psychologist FSP & Elisabeth Ripoll, Therapist, C.T.A.S. Association – Centre de consultation pour les victimes d’abus sexuels - Switzerland

The C.T.A.S. Association provides not only specialized help to sexually abused children, adolescents and adults but also to their relatives. The Association also provides support and information to concerned professionals.

Since 2003, C.T.A.S. has developed a program for adolescent sexual abusers, which includes prevention of second or subsequent offences, and accompanies abusers for the purpose of getting to know them better and for improving therapeutic measures to be put in place. The program also focuses on parents, as their attitude will greatly influence how adolescents participate in the therapy.

The program for adolescent sexual abusers is a one-year program, in closed groups, with clear objectives to be reached. The Association tries to cooperate whenever possible with social workers and the individual psychologist, when there is one, to avoid competition between services and therapists.

Concerning prevention of child abuse, the Association distributes posters in buses informing boys and girls that they do not have to remain silent and that help is available.

William Heinzer, Journalist at the Television Suisse Romande TSR - Switzerland

W. Heinzer, a journalist for thirty years, discovered four years ago the meaning of pedo criminality by doing an inquiry for television. He came upon a CD discovered by a Belgian association at the home of a pedophile (in connection with the Dutroux scandal). His investigation involved verification of what the victim testified by analyzing the photographs. The CD contained 15'000 pictures of raped and tortured children and a sodomized baby with a man laughing while carrying out his act. “ Once you’ve seen this, you change and you want to fight against such a reality”, he said.

In another case (Landslide Productions, Texas), W. Heinzer went on the Internet and reported on what he found on the Swiss Romande TV News. After this program, a debate was organized to evaluate whether it is advisable to show such pictures or whether they should protect the dignity of the victims. The group decided to present images in a blurred fashion. But the absence of pictures and the impossibility to simply describe the images on TV presents a communication problem not only for the public for whom pedo criminality is something far removed, but also for those who try to fight against an industry generating millions of dollars and using thousands of abused children.

William Heinzer has no solution but wanted to present the problem of communication on TV. He hopes that other people experience what he experienced and have their perception changed.

John Brownlow, Central Co-ordinator, STOP IT NOW ! UK & Ireland

Mr. Brownlow talked about a new initiative that started in the United States and which he introduced to England.
The key features of Stop it Now! are preventing sexual abuse of children via the promotion of a public health approach. By raising public awareness, Stop it Now! seeks to place the responsibility for preventing abuse on adults rather than children and targets three key groups:

  • Adults who have abused or are thinking about abusing a child, to encourage them to recognize their behaviour as abusive and to seek help to change
  • Family and friends of abusers to help them recognize the signs of abusive behaviour and seek advice about what action to take
  • Parents of children and young people who sexually abuse other children to recognize the signs and to seek help.

Through media and community activities, Stop it Now! has demonstrated that adults can be reached and provided with information to build awareness and motivate action. In its first year, the telephone Help line in the UK has taken more than 800 calls.

Stop it Now! UK & Ireland has produced a range of information and publicity materials and is developing a network of projects that are working with the media to introduce the key messages of Stop it Now! to local communities.

Mr. Brownlow expanded his presentation at the afternoon training workshop on "Interpersonal prevention programs, framing, responding to and preventing child sexual abuse as a public health issue" on 19 November (see report on page 8 of this summary).

Tessa Schmidburg, Manager of the International Development for Child Focus and General Secretary of the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children - Belgium

The European Centre for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children, operating under the name of Child Focus, acts on both the national and international level to provide active support in the investigation of disappearance, i.e. running away, abduction or sexual exploitation of children (child prostitution, pedo pornography on the Internet, non accompanied children).

To combat child sexual exploitation the Centre launched in March 2000 a prevention campaign against child pornography on the Internet: “Surf safe” to alert children (target group 10 to 13) about the potential dangers of the Internet. After two years of experience, Child Focus decided to create a specific web site “Child Focus-Net-Alert” and a specific communication campaign “The Click safe Campaign” to eliminate child pornography from the Internet and protect young people from harmful and illegal use of the Internet.

The protection of children, integrated to a large degree in daily education programs, Child Focus offers to pupils in primary schools a small ruler reminding them of simple safety rules: “Mes Tibitrucs”, from Tibi, the Child Focus mascot.

Finally, Child Focus launched in 2002, an International Missing Children’s Day on 25 May. A 'forget me not' flower is given to commemorate all disappeared children and encourage parents of missing children with a message of hope and solidarity. Tessa Schmidburg hopes that the Day will be commemorate in Switzerland in 2004.

Catherine Nickbarte, President/Founder of Buakhao White Lotus Foundation (Thaïland), Geneva - Switzerland

Buakhao White Lotus Foundation is involved in prevention of child abuse since 1993. It offers social, medical and legal support to children caught in prostitution and forced labour networks. All children are protected, helped and followed until they are out of danger. For the past ten years the Foundation educated 150 children per year on average. According to Ms. Nickbarte, education is the best way to prevent child prostitution, abduction, forced labour, ill-treatment and physical abuse.

Ms. Nickbarte thinks that respect is the key word. The solution is education for respect. Respect for oneself and respect for each other. She doesn’t understand how one can give up self-respect and sexually abuse babies or children. She is very much concerned about the scope of the problem and would like to launch a campaign to promote respect in Switzerland.

Bernard Boëton, Responsible for the Rights of the Child program, Foundation Terre des hommes Lausanne - Switzerland

Prevention of child sexual exploitation has always been a centre of interest for Terre des Hommes (Tdh): launch in the 80s of a Help line “SOS Enfants”; program for prevention of sexual tourism in collaboration with travel agencies; and legal procedures. At the moment, and in reaction to pedophile activities by one of its delegates in Ethiopia, Tdh prioritizes prevention of pedophilia in associations and institutions dealing with children. Personnel working for or involved with Tdh must sign before starting an assignment a Code of Conduct and an individual Declaration, which have become an integral part of all work contracts. NGO partners with Tdh must also sign the Code of conduct or elaborate its own Code with reference to the principles established by Tdh and adapted to their activities.

According to Mr. Boëton, the infiltration by pedophiles in humanitarian NGOs is a recent phenomenon and could be connected, especially in European countries, to the increase of criminalization and public awareness raising. Some pedophiles try to be hired to work abroad or become sponsors with the purpose of being in contact with children abroad. For example, a NGO had to establish a Code of Conduct for donors.

Bernard Boëton mentioned the fact that in the media, and in some magazines in particular, there are arguments in favour of or against pedophilia as if these two opinions were equitable. He insisted on the fact that they are not and awaits a law that prohibits promotion of child sexual exploitation similar to the law punishing racist attitudes and statements.

Denise Allen, Liaison Officer with the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child - Geneva, Switzerland

A consequence of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) coming into force is the creation of a growing child rights community worldwide. This community has continued to play a central role in combating violations of children’s rights and promoting change in line with the CRC. Denise Allen’s presentation illustrated and highlighted some of the concrete work that has been done by national coalitions in this regard.

The NGO group, starting in 1993, has taken very seriously the question of exploitation of children. 67 international and national organizations form part of a network and in many countries national networks are working to combat child pornography and all forms of exploitation against children, and promote children’s rights. About 100 national child rights networks are working directly or on behalf of children. The NGO group is very pleased to be involved in this kind of work and is happy that WWSF, member of the NGO group for the CRC, promotes prevention of exploitation of children.

The NGO group for the CRC recently produced a publication, “International mechanisms, a guide to national NGOs to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse”, introducing international instruments to NGOs working to combat child abuse.

Jacqueline Grévy, President Femmes et Enfants du Monde - France

Before introducing Mr. Gioanni, Mrs. Grévy insisted on the importance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and called on all actors who work for children, including the media, to push governments to respect and comply with the Convention. According to Mrs. Grévy, hope exists, demonstrated by increased consciousness in our occidental countries and while there seems to be a lack of concern, there is also a lot of interest for the well being of children. She also mentioned a future European Convention that will consider children as full citizens.

Pierre Gioanni, Barrister, Expert in child rights, Femmes et Enfants du Monde - France

Mr. Gioanni talked about harmonization of national and international laws and regulations concerning children. There exists a catalogue of the wide range of international rules. According to him, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has to be the very basis of all national legislation, which inspires the legislator, is interpreted nationally, and sometimes rejected. However, very often, the judges refer to the spirit of the UN Convention.

In some cases three international Conventions and a national rule are mentioned in one legal case. It is not easy to know which legislation one should apply. But in spite of an apparent contradiction, he thinks that there is an internal coherence. There seems to be no legal void and even if a lawyer in France does not have the right to ask a child to testify, other means can be used to hear a child’s testimony. Mr. Gioanni is optimistic and feels that national and international instruments complement each-other.

Christina Linnér, Senior Coordinator for Refugee Children, UNHCR - Geneva, Switzerland

Christina Linnér shared UNHCR’s activities concerning refugee children, in particular some recent developments in preventing and responding to sexual exploitation, abuse and violence, which resulted in progress in some key areas:

  • Revised Guidelines for Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons have been developed in consultation with a range of UNHCR’s partners.
  • A Code of Conduct, which addresses appropriate behavior by UNHCR staff towards children was issued in September 2002. Facilitation sessions on the meaning and application of this code have subsequently been organized in most UNHCR offices worldwide. A newly issued Bulletin of the Secretary-General on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse came into force on 15 October 2003 and is legally binding for all UN staff as well as for UN forces conducting operations under UN command and control.
  • UNHCR’s capacity to investigate alleged sexual and gender-based violence has been strengthened.
  • As of 2003, new clauses were introduced in UNHCR’s agreements with implementing partners according to which all staff of partners are bound by the principles relating to standards of behavior developed by the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Humanitarian Crises (2002).

Concerted collaboration between all stake holders, a “zero tolerance” attitude of all concerned, a strengthened role and duties of managers, and sustained focus on these issues (she endorsed the persistence of Ms. Pradervand to convene annual Review sessions regarding progress in child abuse prevention), are among the prerequisites for ensuring better protection of refugee – and other children against sexual exploitation, abuse and violence.

Dr. A. Butchart, Coordinator in the Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention, World Health Organization WHO - Geneva, Switzerland

Dr. Butchart wanted to make participants aware of the tools that WHO has been producing over the past years for violence prevention and the implication in child abuse prevention in particular.

  • A World Report on Violence and Health, which advocates the Public Health approach to prevention. The report’s recommendations are supported by a World Health Assembly Resolution through which, all 199 Member States commit themselves to increase their activities for violence prevention. The report has several chapters dealing with different types of violence (mostly violence against children). For each type of violence and in each chapter the report gives the latest available information about the size of the problem, the risk factors, and what is being done to be effective in preventing these problems.
  • A Global campaign for violence prevention to raise awareness about the public health dimension of the problem of violence and what public health can do to prevent it. It also aims to advocate for increasing human and financial resources for prevention.
  • Some posters to make people more aware of the problem, dealing with child abuse and neglect but also with all the other forms of violence. Information is freely available on the website of the WHO Department of injuries and violence prevention.

Training Session

by Stop it Now! UK (1:30-4 PM). In English only

“Interpersonal prevention programs, framing, responding to, and preventing child sexual abuse as a public health issue” by John Brownlow, Director - STOP IT NOW! (UK)

24 people attended the afternoon training session. A follow-up meeting is planed in 2004

Child sexual abuse only came up as a real issue for professionals as of the 1980s. Today, it is estimated that 75% of cases are not reported, and that less than 5% of cases are reported to the authorities. It is extremely difficult for people to be able to recognize that abuse might be happening in their own family. It represents a major step for a child to even speak about this, and an enormous one for the family to acknowledge it, and especially ACT on this information. This is due to the fact that, as distinct from other forms of abuse (e.g.- child labor) sexual abuse is secretive.

Stop it Now! was founded in the USA in 1993 by a woman who was abused between 12 and 16 by her own father. Concerned by the very low level of public concern with the issue, she created Stop it Now! to raise the level of public information/concern, and also alert professionals. Started in Vermont, with presently offshoots in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Georgia, Stop it Now! had a significant impact on the Centre for Disease Control of Atlanta (CDC).
Treatment of sexual offenders in groups proves to be efficient, just as for alcoholics. In the States, sex offenders meet three times a week. Like alcoholics and people on drugs, sex offenders are compulsive in their behavior. Handling sex offenders starts with a detailed examination of what the offender did. Offenders start by fantasizing, then move into abuse, feel bad about it, then get back to abusing to feel better… and the cycle continues.

It is essential, the speaker stated, to get the offender to REALLY UNDERSTAND what he has done to the child. Sexual abuse in their childhood reported by sex offenders tends to be significantly exaggerated by the latter, as it is often a means of justifying their own deviant behavior. Only a minority have been abused. (The exact percentage is probably impossible to assess).

It is NOT useful to make distinctions between minor and major sexual abuse, because a very minor abuse by a father can be infinitely more devastating on some than “major” offences by a person with no relationship to the child.
US specialist David Finkelhor mentions 4 levels (hurdles) that need to be activated or overcome to abuse a child:

  • Motivation: the offender needs to be impelled by something to perpetrate abuse
  • Internal inhibitors: the conscience, inner judge or moral law
  • External protectors: the abuser will need to somehow disarm their suspicion. Often, this will be done by making himself indispensable, by being especially nice with the child or family (“what a nice guy he is”, “he’s always ready to help and available”), called “grooming” behavior
  • Finally, the child’s resistance needs to be overcome.

Most programs until now have aimed at step 4 (teaching the child to defend himself or herself).

Stop it Now! aims at hurdle three, i.e. reinforcing the protective adults around the child with information about “grooming” behavior. It aims adults, with the view of helping them see/become aware of inappropriate behaviour among people close to them.

The Stop it Now! Help line is to help the caller recognize if his worries about someone (including himself) are justified or not. Youngest caller to date was 18 years old. Short-term prison sentences are more harmful than helpful because sex offenders mix with other sex offenders and get reinforced in their tendencies. Long-term community sentences are better because offenders have the possibility of receiving psychological treatment.

John Brownlow developed at length the case of a father who masturbated himself in front of his step-daughter.
The term “pedophile” has a clinical meaning, it means someone who loves/likes children, which is why Stop it Now! prefers the term sexual abuser although the popular press has come to use the term with criminal connotation and horrendous, sinful behavior as to banish all possible discussion. Hence the need to develop a new language to speak about sex and child sexual abuse, common to professionals, and that can be understood by the public.

A last issue covered by the speaker concerned amnesia. Therapists have put forward the idea that many adults block out all memories of abuse, with the result that some therapists have planted the idea of sexual abuse in all their patients!
(= “False memory” syndrome).

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Coalition Impact 2003 - Global Activity Report

Activities and events organized by international NGO coalition members


I - Introduction

  • Message from the Women's World Summit Foundation
  • Why a World Day for Prevention Child Abuse?
  • International Coalition Members 2003
  • Open letter to coalition members and partners 2003

II - Geneva Activity Report

  • Round Table Program
  • Round Table Report
  • Training Session - 19 November 2003

Download Report 2003 - Chapter I & II (230 Ko)

III - Global activities organized
by coalition members

Download Report 2003 - Chapter III (320 Ko)

  • Africa
  • Asia and Pacific
  • Europe
  • The Americas

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Photo Gallery

The Americas




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