November 18 is marked as the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. This year the European Day focuses on “Making the circle of trust truly safe for children”.
A "circle of trust" includes people the child trusts and hold a position of authority or influence. For example, parents or caregivers, relatives, teachers and other professionals at school, sports trainers, healthcare providers as well as children's peers.
“For children, the risk of sexual abuse does not always come from the outside – it mostly comes from the people they trust,” said Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić.
The Council of Europe’s Convention for the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (the Lanzarote Convention) clarifies that sexual abuse is when an adult engages in sexual activities with the child using a recognized position of trust, authority, or influence.
Many children never disclose cases of sexual abuse, especially when the harm is done by a person that the child knows, respects, trusts and even loves. The victim might have to suffer consequences of such traumatic event throughout their lifetime.
Specific actions that can help to prevent sexual abuse:
- Background checking for people working with children
- Training professionals to recognise signs of sexual abuse
- Educate children about sexual abuse using age-appropriate language
- Create specialised services (e.g., hotlines)
- Raise awareness among parents
Watch this animated video “Tell someone you trust” (for age 9-13)
For more information and materials visit the Council of Europe website.