Sexual abuse prevention campaign launched in Latvia

The 116111 trust hotline for children and adolescents of the National Inspectorate for the Protection of Children's Rights (VBTAI) is launching an informative campaign "Break the Silence" November 21-26. It aims to draw public attention to the problem of sexual abuse and of issues related to child sexual abuse, the promoters said.

“As the stories received on the hotline attest, sexual abuse has very different faces. These stories love silence because it's part of a more violent network of relationships. A perpetrator, who is not necessarily a stranger but most often a close family member, friend, or relative, will always act to make the child question that he or she has experienced violence.

“This silence is accompanied by very intense emotions - such as shame, guilt, fear, anger, which further stop the child from speaking out loud about it. Kids are quiet! It is everyone's job to be observant, perceptive, supportive to notice any change in the child's behavior and, in case of suspicion, to seek immediate help. Similarly, children and [adults] need to talk constantly about safety - how to protect ourselves, how to recognize unwanted touches, what is the action plan in threatening situations”, said Amanda Vēja, director of the VBTAI department of support for families with children.

The hotline has received more than 70 calls in ten months this year that spoke of any aspect of sexual assault. It's not necessarily the children who are calling for help, but the child's friends, parents, or specialists. In 23 cases, the alleged violence was related to the family, in 41 cases to other people in mutual relations, such as friends, partners, etc., while in seven cases the alleged violence occurred in an educational institution.

During the promotion, VBTAI specifically calls for the possibility of contacting hotline specialists, not only by calling 116111 but also by writing in chat (working days 12:00 to 20:00, in the chat window of by writing to the email [email protected], or by downloading the free hotline app "Uzticības tālrunis".

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