Multidisciplinary approach to protecting children online

  • Awareness
  • 04/01/2018
  • Romanian Safer Internet Centre

Here, Ora de Net, part of the Romanian Safer Internet Centre (SIC), outlines its strategy for raising awareness of, and developing appropriate methods for, preventing and combating abuse in the online environment using a multidisciplinary approach

During 2015 and 2016, the Romanian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) organised four training courses with the theme "Child protection in the online environment". The courses were organised in partnership with the Ministry of National Education, the County Centers for Resources and Educational Assistance, the National Authority for Protection of Children's Rights and Adoption, and the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police. Each edition addressed a specific target group consisting of county representatives appointed by the project's partners.

The course was attended by 188 specialists from all counties in Romania: school inspectors, school counsellors, social workers and police officers from the prevention department. Each of them accepted the invitation to become a volunteer facilitator within the Ora de Net project and organised a series of public events at local level for children, parents, teachers and other specialists. The main objectives of the activities were to increase the level of information on the opportunities and risks associated with the use of the internet by children, and to promote the Romanian Helpline counselling service, ctrl_AJUTOR.

During the local meetings, it became clear that there was a strong need for sustained information on the issues identified among both children and the adults responsible for their education. At the same time, another identified need was to create a method to support better collaboration between local specialists who are in direct contact with children who may be involved in online abuse situations. The fields of action of the trained specialists are different, but the outlook is complementary so that a sustained and predictable collaboration between them can lead to a holistic, child-centered approach that will facilitate the whole process of prevention and intervention in case of abuse situations in the digital environment. Taking all of this into account, the Romanian Safer Internet Centre team proposed to play a facilitating role in creating such a local co-operation mechanism and will therefore now hold a series of regional meetings to allow for evaluation of the previous work process and the presentation of a potential working mechanism going forward.

By joining together complementary areas including education, psychology, social assistance and legal protection, Ora de Net facilitators can act as a support and intervention body in online-abuse-related situations experienced by children in the county. An easier communication between them, facilitated by a nationally agreed work procedure, will help to reduce online child abuse incidents among Romanian children.

Therefore, the project which Ora de Net plans to implement in the coming months aims to contribute and improve the collaboration between the representatives of institutions in regard to children's education and their protection. This, in turn, will help to facilitate the rise in awareness and development of appropriate methods of preventing and combating abuse in the online environment. Plans until the end of the current school year include:

  • Facilitate the creation of interdisciplinary teams in at least 30 counties (out of the 42 counties).
  • Organise at least six regional workshops to evaluate Ora de Net activities supported in 2016 and establish the direction of collaboration for the school year 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.
  • Inform, through interdisciplinary teams, at least 2,000 territorial education institutions about the Ora de Net volunteer programme and the free counseling line ctrl_AJUTOR.
  • Organise public events through Ora de Net volunteer facilitators for a minimum of 10,000 participants - children, young people, parents, teachers and specialists.

Find out more about the work of the Romanian Safer Internet Centre (SIC), including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

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