Geneva Report 2003
Progress in preventing child abuse – Annual review II
on the occasion of
World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse - 19 November 2003
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
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
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
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
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
Operational since January 2003, the Coordination Unit
provides support to the Confederation and Cantons in the following three
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
- 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
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).
Coalition Impact 2003 - Global Activity Report
Activities and events organized by international NGO coalition members