They present educational platforms so that adolescents know how to protect themselves from sexual violence on the Internet

EL NUEVO DIARIO, SANTO DOMINGO.- The Dominican Republic International Plan, the Paniamor Foundation of Costa Rica and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), delivered to the Ministry of Education, the digital educational platforms E-mentors and E-pana for the prevention of child sexual exploitation and abuse on the Internet.

E-pana is a dynamic virtual platform developed for adolescents from 12 years of age, where through interactive resources they are informed about the risks that they can find on the web such as cyberbullying, grooming and sextortion.

In it, they can obtain tools to identify, prevent, or report an action that puts them in a situation of violation of their rights.

However, E-mentors is made up of the modules: ‘I inform myself’, which deals with opportunities and risks on the web; ‘Prevengo’ which offers guidance on how to accompany children and adolescents online and ‘Protejo’ which teaches how to react to situations; providing families and caregivers with resources and audiovisual guides on technological upbringing so that they can guide boys and girls in the safe use of technological tools and the Internet.

Roberto Fulcar, Minister of Education.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) open a world of opportunities for knowledge, for expression and for social interaction, especially relevant in times of COVID-19. But, they also represent challenges, where girls, boys and their families are not always prepared to face in the best way the different situations that can occur on the Internet, this is the reason for these resources.

In this pandemic environment where special attention must be paid to knowing how they can protect their children on the internet, the platforms are a bet to promote a fun resource so that families can accompany adolescents in their interactions with digital technologies by promoting the safe and responsible use of the content offered on the internet.

According to preliminary data from a study carried out by Plan International and UNICEF, it stands out that 53% of the adolescents consulted say they have received material with sexual content without having sought or requested it.

Rosa Elcarte, UNICEF representative in the country

Virginia Saiz, director of Plan International, said that “being on the Internet represents great opportunities, but also challenges for boys and girls, especially for girls and adolescents who face risks of sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation. For this reason, these platforms, built taking into account the needs and opinions of teenagers, constitute a very powerful educational tool to keep them informed and help them navigate safely ”.

On the other hand, Dr. Rosa Elcarte, UNICEF representative in the country, said that “in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet has been essential for families, and especially boys and girls, to have been able to learn, play, connect with family and socialize with friends. However, these new technologies represent, in turn, a matter of great concern for families who do not know how to support their children so that they do not take risks online ”.

At the meeting, they highlighted that families, personnel from the educational sector and caregivers of children should pay special attention to knowing how they can protect them from exposures and dangers on the Internet. In addition, they must know what type of information is private and what to do in case they have any risk situation on the web.

Virginia Saiz, director of Plan Internacional.

“Our challenge, when designing these platforms is to provide information in a simple, fun way, but above all in a didactic way, and useful for everyone. For this reason, we celebrate this alliance with the Ministry of Education, which will allow us to disseminate clear information for the educational environment, “said Elcarte.

In turn, the Minister of Education, Roberto Fulcar, confirmed that he has enthusiastically welcomed these digital educational platforms, highlighting that within the framework of this initiative, guidance and psychology personnel from the Ministry he presides have been trained; to bring these resources to all schools and communities in the country.

Fulcar, took the opportunity to highlight that “MINERD has not only cared and taken care that students have their electronic devices, but, with these tools, it will also work to teach them to use their equipment properly, and to protect themselves from Internet risks ”.

Meanwhile, Milena Grillo, director of the Paniamor Foundation, stated that they have achieved great success with a similar initiative in Costa Rica.

“We have reached hundreds of public officials who work with families successfully as protective agents against dangers on the web, and it is just what we want to replicate in the Dominican Republic,” said Grillo.

The E-pana and E-mentors tools are free resources available to the entire population and accessible from devices, such as cell phones, computers and tablets. At the end of the modules, the participants obtain a certification diploma.

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