Webinar on sexuality and risk behaviour online

Making the internet safer remains a strategic objective in Portugal. According to the EU Kids Online 2020 report, approximately 1 in 4 children or young people say they have had an "uncomfortable" experience online (18 per cent for boys; 27 per cent for girls). Equally, more than half of children say they have difficulties in verifying which information online is true (53 per cent).

Date 2021-04-14 Author Portuguese Safer Internet Centre Section awareness, sid Topic love, relationships, sexuality (online) Audience children and young people, organisations and industry, parents and carers, research, policy and decision makers, teachers, educators and professionals
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Since January 2021, the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre has been coordinated by the National Cybersecurity Centre (CNCS). The Portuguese Safer Internet Centre Consortium also includes the Directorate-General for Education of the Ministry of Education (DGE), the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth (IPDJ), APAV - Portuguese Association for Victim Support, the Altice Foundation and Microsoft Portugal.

Safer Internet Day (SID) was marked on Tuesday, 9 February 2021 and, among the initiatives carried out, themes related to online relationships were highlighted. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and confinement measures have changed how youngsters relate to each other, increasingly using technology. Therefore to celebrate SID 2021, the Portuguese Centre held an online event dedicated to the topic of "Sexuality and risk behaviour online". The webinar included presentations by several experts who addressed issues related to online relationships, from online dating and sexting to revenge porn and sextortion.

Members of the government, namely the Minister of State and the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, the Secretary of State for Education, João Costa, and the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, João Paulo Rebelo also addressed the event, recognising the importance of how the internet enables communication and interaction in times of confinement and how a significant part of our lives have been transferred to thedigital space. However, while the internet offers a world of opportunities, it also presents risks, as can be seen, for example, in the increase in cybercrimes reported last year.

The expert panel debate was moderated by Reginaldo Rodrigues de Almeida, a well-known journalist. Cristina Ponte, coordinator of EU Kids Online in Portugal, framed the theme according to data on the practices regarding online relationships of children and youngsters in Portugal. Pedro Verdelho from the Attorney General's Office presented the legal framework of crimes associated with practices such as sextortion and revenge porn. Law enforcement representative Ricardo Vieira reviewed some of the types of cases that are reported to his agency, as well as the treatment that they receive and the forwarding that is given to them. In her address, Vania Beliz, sexologist and clinical psychologist, focused on the importance of demystifing online sexual communication and pointed out some solutions and paths to follow in the way we approach the subject of sexuality online. The talk was also made available on WhatsApp so that the public could interact with the panellists addressing questions and comments.

For security reasons it was not possible to have youth participants on site. Therefore four videos were pre-recorded and embedded during the webinar, focusing on Safer Internet Day and its significance; Digital Leader interventions in the educational community; dating with fair play; and on the Naveg@s Programme activity and achievements. The last two videos were made by young people involved in volunteer projects in the area of online security and particularly online relationships, presenting testimonies of their experience, alerting young people in the audience to risky behaviours, and the need to live this presence on the internet consciously and safely.

More than 2,200 people from all over the country actively participated in the event, which also included interactive moments with the public. The full webinar can be viewed online at www.internetsegura.pt/SID2021#video.

The Portuguese Safer Internet Centre also organised several other activities and shared good practices, and provided various new tools and resources to promote the responsible use of the internet in the framework of Safer Internet Day. Some examples include:

  • The Safer Internet Centre and Altice Foundation promoted a live streaming of the play "ID A TUA MARCA NA NET", a 35-minute adaptation for the online platform with new sketches, performed by the actors Pedro Górgia, Tiago Aldeia and Alexandre da Silva. Over the last few years, this action has already involved more than 77,000 students. The play was viewed online by hundreds of schools across the country.
  • Safer Internet Day Campaign in Portuguese Schools, an activity from SeguraNet to promote digital citizenship activities in schools during February. The schools were requested to register their initiatives online and, this year, 400 schools registered to support the Safer Internet Day 2021 campaign, including schools in Angola and Timor.
  • Launch of the Data Detox x Youth by APAV, an initiative from Tactical Tech that aims to help young people taking control of their tech. This interactive toolkit encourages young people to think about different aspects of their digital lives from their social media profiles to their passwords, with simple activities for reflection and play. To launch the initiative, the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre invited Daisy Kidd, responsible for the creation of Data Detox x Youth, João Gomes, Youth Ambassador, and Ricardo Estrela, Operational Manager of the Safer Internet Helpline, for a live event where Daisy Kidd presented an overview of the initiative, and all the speakers adressed the importance of digital privacy. The event can be watched on APAV’s YouTube channel.
  • During February, an online campaign took place on the Centre’s social media profiles dedicated to the topic of online relationships.
  • The Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth also launched the contest of memes and short films "Sex, risks and the internet" on social media.

The Portuguese Safer Internet Centre would like to thank everyone who actively participated in Safer Internet Day 2021 initiatives in Portugal and contributed to the promotion of freer and safer experiences in the digital world.

Find out more about Safer Internet Day in Portugal. Alternatively, find out more about the work of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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