INTERACT is a project supported financially by the Daphne III Programme of the European Union, and lasting 24 months, with Save the Children Italy as leading partner, working with Animus Association Foundation as partner in Bulgaria and Salvati Copiii (Save the Children) in Romania, with the Romanian National Agency against Trafficking in Persons as Associate Partner.

The project was addressed to children in situations of economic and social marginalization, who live in residential care facilities for foreign unaccompanied minors in Italy, or children without parental care living in institutions in Bulgaria and Romania and that can be considered at risk of trafficking and all forms of exploitation.

For various reasons, including the difficulty of access to schooling and language difficulties, these children may not receive all the information and tools useful for protecting themselves against those who would exploit them through the use of new technologies, both in terms of grooming, for sexual exploitation on the Internet (production and dissemination of images of abuse), and for possible recruitment for this and other forms of exploitation, such as labour exploitation. The main objective of the Interact project was to protect children without parental care against media violence by informing and support them in the safe use of new technologies through participatory activities and training for professionals who work for them.

The specific objectives of the project were:

  1. to consolidate understanding of the phenomenon of technologies violence in relation to separated children in Italy and children in institutions in Romania and Bulgaria through an updated desk analysis building on the experience of the REACT project (Raising awareness and Empowerment Against Child Trafficking - JLS/2007/DAP-1/174), and a survey involving the target group;
  2. to raise awareness and educate professionals working with children living in institutions and residential care facilities about media violence in the partner countries, through development and adaptation of existing methodologies and awareness raising and/or educational materials, followed by specific training for professionals institutions/residential care facilities;
  3. to promote the safe and informed use of new technologies by children without parental care, including children living in institutions or residential care facilities, by involving our target group in the development and adaptation of existing methodologies and awareness raising and/or educational materials, and the delivery of awareness raising/educational workshops for institutions/residential care facilities.

In the preliminary phase of the project each partner contributed to a desk analysis on media violence in relation to specific target groups relevant to the project's aims, and a survey involving 30/40 children living in care facilities or institutions in each country. Those activities, along with the mapping of existing awareness raising and educational materials, represented a useful preparatory work for the development of the project's new awareness raising materials and activities.

After this, an intensive consultation (72 hours) followed, involving 10 or more adolescents from institutions/residential care facilities in each country. The consultation activities resulted in awareness materials for children which have been used during the subsequent workshops with children from institutions/residential care facilities and others in each partner country. Parallel to this activity, workshops intended to educate and raise awareness of professionals working with the target group were conducted in the same facilities.

A monitoring system was developed and implemented from the beginning of the activities and applied in each phase of the project, using a number of specifically designed tools including a web platform (www.interactonline.eu) to facilitate communication and exchange of good practice between the project participants. The web platform was also developed to be the project's main tool for communication and dissemination towards the target group, care professionals and the wider community, hosting the materials but also providing support to those who seek it through communication tools such as a forum or blog.

The project's publication "Summary Report on Interact Project's Awareness Raising Methodologies and Tools" captures the main phases of the project, the results and outputs produced, and provides a first analysis of the impact the project had on the direct beneficiaries in each partner country. It provides insight into the target group's use of new technologies and more generally how to favor the safe and informed use in residential care facilities or institutions. The publication is in English, Italian, Bulgarian and Romanian.

The final conference, held on 7 December 2012, presented the project results and findings, with a keynote speaker from Eurojust illustrating the types of cases where new technologies can be used in child trafficking and/or exploitation. The project recommendations discussed at the conference include the need for a stronger commitment of from national and international authorities to face cybercrime cases connected with the trafficking and exploitation with a multi-disciplinary and coordinated approach; the need for more research on links between trafficking and exploitation and cybercrime; and the need to raise awareness both among children in the target group as well as adults through the use of awareness raising materials and methodologies in all institutions and residential care facilities to improve protection of those children from media violence and also for prevention against the risk of exploitation and abuse

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