May 28, 2023

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“Unwanted touching” campaign: More than 53% of the cases registered on the Children’s Telephone were reported by minors

More than half (53.2%) of the cases registered at Telefonul Copilului 116.111 as part of the “Unwanted Touching” campaign were reported by children.

They benefited from psychological counseling with a view to emotional rebalancing, prevention of sexual aggression and information.

“40,450 children and 10,000 adults are the beneficiaries of the 2,000 preventive activities carried out, at national level, within the campaign to prevent sexual aggression against minors ‘Unwanted Touches'”, informs a press release from the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police (IGPR) sent , Friday, AGERPRES.

The number of notifications regarding crimes of sexual assault against a minor increased by approximately 30% during the implementation of the campaign, compared to the same period in 2021.

More than 9,000 views were registered, monthly, on the online platform dedicated to children, which presents information about recognizing a case of sexual assault, prevention tips, explanations about the psychological impact on the victim and examples of cases advised by the Children’s Telephone Association, edited to respect anonymity.

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The “Unwanted Touches” campaign was initiated and implemented by the Romanian Police and the Telefonul Copilului Association, with the support of the Embassy of the United States of America in Romania, and was carried out by the integrated communication agency Mercury360, between November 16, 2021 and May 31, 2022.

“Our joint efforts to support the campaign to prevent sexual aggression against children have demonstrated, once again, the impact and efficiency of an integrated approach. Joining forces with our colleagues and partners from the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police and the Telefonul Copilului Association , we showed how important it is to give a voice to those who cannot stand up for themselves and to provide reporting mechanisms that allow vulnerable young people to be heard or give adults the courage to speak on their behalf. This campaign reached an impressive number of people and, in the future, many of them will carry forward this message against unwanted touching, abuse and violence,” said US Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Shane Dixon.

The campaign aimed at increasing the level of information of children, parents and the general public about the need to be involved in preventing and combating this type of abuse, respectively increasing the degree of awareness of its negative effects, as well as encouraging reporting and requesting information and counseling services offered through through the European helpline for children Telefonul Copilului 116.111.

“The ‘Unwanted Touches’ campaign achieved its goal. And we, the police, don’t say it, but the numbers say it. From the analysis of crimes of sexual assault with minor victims carried out at the level of the Institute for Research and Prevention of Criminality, it emerged that the majority they were committed by known perpetrators, many of them being committed in the family environment. Through the messages sent, we managed to convince adults who knew of cases of sexual aggression against minors to come and report, and this motivates us to continue our work on this line . There were situations in which the victims were repeatedly assaulted by the same perpetrator, years in a row, until they made the decision to report. Unreported cases do not mean that the facts do not happen, but they can have very serious consequences, at the level the entire community, if we don’t take measures”, said the director of the Institute for Research and Crime Prevention, chief police commissioner Sorin Stănică.

Through the activities of the campaign, actions were taken to make parents/legal guardians responsible for the obligation to protect minors in all aspects, increase the level of information of minors and teaching staff about this type of abuse and make specialists from social assistance structures responsible for the consequences of sexual abuse.

“Children who are victims of sexual aggression need a lot of courage to speak about the abuses they have been subjected to, all the more so as we note with concern the tendency of the age of the victims to decrease, in over 75% of the cases registered at Telefonul Copilului 116.111 these between the ages of 6 and 12. When we have more brave voices speaking up, both victims and people who know of such cases, we can begin to bring about change in misperceptions, judgment and stigma from which the victims suffer so much. And the ‘Unwanted Touches’ campaign contributed significantly to the realization of an important step in this process of change,” said Cătălina Surcel, executive director of the Telefonul Copilului Association.

According to the data recorded during the campaign, 86.5% of the victims of sexual abuse were girls and 13.5% were boys.

“The aggressors of the children were: 29.8% one of the parents or the concubine/concubine of one of the parents, 49.3% other members of the extended family, 20.9% unknown persons. In only 15% of the registered cases, the situation was known to to another person (parents, extended family, friends), these having taken place a long time ago, with a continuous character”, states the IGPR.

In 53.2% of the cases registered at Telefonul Copilului, the applicants were minors, and in 46.8% – adults: neighbors, acquaintances or extended family members.

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