The State Agency for Child Protection took the initiative, for the first time in Bulgaria, to introduce the universally recognized Caregiver Skills Training Programme of the World Health Organization for families of children with developmental disorders.
November 18, 2020 marks the European Day on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. It is dedicated to the topic "Prevention of risky behavior by children: child self-generated sexual images and/or videos".
Sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children are still a reality in our society. According to the Council of Europe, one in five children has been a victim of some form of sexual violence before the age of 18.
This type of child abuse can happen over the phone, on the street or through a webcam, online, at home or at school. The perpetrator can be someone from the child's circle of trust, which is the most common case, or a complete stranger, and can cause harm to their whole physical and mental health, reflecting on the child's entire life. In 90% of the cases, acts of sexual violence are not reported to the police.
In order to prevent these crimes, the perpetrators should be prosecuted and the victims should be protected, while the general public should make sure that it does not deviate from the problem, but instead should bring it to light, and discuss ways and practical steps to solve it.
The commitment of the Bulgarian state in the fight against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse against children, as well as for the protection of the rights of children, victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, is reflected in the signing and ratification in 2001 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on child trafficking, child prostitution and child pornography (in force since 18.01.2002), as well as in the signing on 25.10.2007 of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention), ratified by a law adopted by the 41st National Assembly on 2 November 2011 (in force since 01.04.2012).
Every child in Bulgaria has the right to be protected against being used for begging, prostitution, distribution of pornographic materials and obtaining illicit material income, as well as against sexual abuse and exploitation.
Under the leadership of the State Agency for Child Protection and with the participation of the Council for Electronic Media, the Criteria for assessment of content that is unfavorable or creates a risk of harm to the physical, mental, moral and/or social development of children have been developed.
Children are increasingly exploring and expressing their sexuality through information and communication technologies, especially social media and messaging applications. This includes generating and sharing their sexually suggestive or explicit images and/or videos. However, they often underestimate the risks associated with this behavior, are sometimes pressured by peers to share such images and/or videos, or are tempted to engage in risky behavior. Such images and/or videos may become available on the Internet and lead to children being sexually coerced and/or blackmailed.
More information regarding the European Day on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse can be found on the Council of Europe website: https://www.coe.int/en/web/children/end-child-sex-abuse-day