ICR calls for better consideration of youth voices in public spaces

In the same vein of ideas as women and indigenous peoples who demand that we stop talking and implement initiatives for them, but without them, the International Bureau for Child Rights (IBCR) is working so that young people can participate in decision-making on issues that concern them.

In February 2021, cybertip.ca, the Canadian center for reporting child sexual exploitation on the Internet, recorded an 88% increase in reports of sexual extortion. While kids were glued to their screens for nearly everything during the pandemic, often even school, ICR launched a word project for young people last summer! To better prevent and respond to sexual exploitation. Five groups of about ten young people aged 14-17 were created: three in Montreal (at the Collège Notre Dame, at the Maison des jeunes MAGI in Mercier-Ouest and at the Motivation jeunesse, which helps young dropouts to return to school and prepare for the job market) and two On the North Shore, at the Patriots High School in Saint-Eustache and Externat Sacré-Coeur in Rosemère.

During the monthly workshops, they are specially invited to develop their own definition of sexual exploitation.

“Then they discussed many of the issues that they identified as important, such as healthy relationships, manipulation, free and informed consent, and power relationships between children and girls and girls and boy and boy.” , explains Genevieve Tribanier, Officer from the Word for Youth Project!

There is also talk of the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. We also discuss what they are and are not allowed to do. We also encourage them to ask themselves what they should do if this happens to them or a friend. We want young people to be equipped to help each other. We also discuss the importance of involving a trusted adult. Because sometimes you have to take legal action.”

Prevention campaigns created in recent years have also been shown to young people to see what they think.

Consultations and recommendations

The workshops carried out during the year raised many ideas and questions; So this summer, young people will be collecting data. “They will consult other young people who are not involved in the project and who have different facts about them,” explains Genevieve Tribanier. They will also consult adults and experts. »

After that, young people will make recommendations. An advisory committee, made up of people responsible for campaigns to prevent and combat sexual exploitation, has a mandate to educate young people about issues that need to be taken into account when developing new policies.

“The advisory committee members also see the added value of youth participation: there are things that stand out and are clear, but there are other things that we haven’t thought of,” says Genevieve Tribanier.

Changing the way things work

For ICR, words for young people! It is one method used to bring decision makers to listen more to adolescents and to create policies more adapted to their needs and realities. Thus, the OIC, which is in Quebec but also in Africa and Latin America, promotes the right of the child to participate, Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“If progress has been made in Quebec in families, where we generally listen to children, and in schools, where we now often find children’s councils, there is still a lot of work to be done to increase the inclusion of young people in public speaking about issues that matter to them,” says Julie Dinomy, associate director of experience and learning at ICR.

It is a change in the perception of children that the organization is trying to bring about.

“We want children to be seen not just as vulnerable beings in need of protection, but as beings who have something to say,” Julie Denomi says.

To achieve this goal, the organization also has other initiatives such as the REPERE training (Making children’s participation effective to enhance their experience) in order to better support children who are victims or witnesses of criminal offenses in Quebec.

“For example, we work with social workers, judges, police officers and other professionals to get them to encourage better participation among children,” adds Julie Dinomy.

The office was founded in 1992 by André Ruffo, a former judge in the Youth Division of the Court of Quebec, and Dr. Bernard Kouchner, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France.

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