Blatt afram, established 2004, (pronounced: blout a-from) which translates as “Straight Forward,” is the leading grass roots child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention organization in Iceland.
Blatt afram’s mission is to end the cycle of child sex abuse and break the conspiracy of silence around this most devastating and pervasive social issue by educating adults and creating greater awareness within the community, media and government. Blatt afram is actively involved in educating all adults who work with children and teenagers on how to look for the signs of sexual abuse, and what potential steps should be taken if they suspect a child is being abused. Blátt áfram provides trainings for teachers, day care workers, outreach centers, after school programs and sports organization – virtually anyone who comes in contact with children.
In 2004, Blatt afram with the cooperation of Darkness to Light, a US-based CSA prevention organization, translated into Icelandic and mailed a copy of the “7 Steps to Protecting Children” to every home in Iceland.
Blatt afram´s primary focus is on primary prevention with education and powerful PSA messages. This focus has created an environment and public support, where Blatt afram´s CSA prevention education for adults, teens and childrens now a routine education in most public schools in Iceland.
Blátt afram has expanded its global reach and is now providing consulting and support services in other countries such as Greenland, Hungary, India, Latvia, Sweden, Uganda, Rumania and Hungary and has trained program facilitators in Hungary, Greenland and Sweden.
Blátt afram recommends and provides trainings and support in other countries. Prevention training and education programs include: (not all of the programs below are created by BA)
1. 6 Steps to Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children – an informational booklet for responsible adults. This literature on prevention has been distributed to each Icelandic household in 2004 and 2013
2.Darkness to Light Stewards of Children – a training program for sexual abuse prevention. This training is provided to adults, parents, and professionals who work with children and teenagers. The program is designed to equip adults with step-by-step training to prevent, identify, and respond to cases of child sexual abuse. Darkness to Light originated in the U.S. and Blátt Áfram has been providing this training in Iceland since 2006.
3.“Kids on the Block” ( Krakkarnir í hverfinu) – An interactive puppet show that originated in the United States. From 2005 to 2012, “Kids on the Block” was performed throughout Icelandic elementary schools for children 7 to 11 years of age. Beginning in 2012, “Kids on the Block” has been run by a government agency, shown to children 7 years of age only.
ImImportant note. Although the show is designed for a younger audience, the program’s reach extends beyond the confines of this age group, as it is also used as a tool to help adults understand how children communicate. While the performance conveys the message to children that it is okay and necessary to tell someone when they are in need of help, it also serves as a message to adults that it is their responsibility to make sure children know how to ask for help, as well as be able to identify when a child is in need of help.
There is an emphasis that adults, specifically teachers and school staff, must be prepared with education about child sexual abuse, how children disclose information, how to respond to disclosure, and the importance of reporting. Through this production, Blátt Áfram asserts the need for social services, e.g., a school counsellor on staff, to properly handle reports of child sexual abuse, as well as serve as a resource for children to get the support they need.
4. “Secrets” Leyndarmalid – child sexual abuse prevention education for children in the form of an animated film, designed for children ages 5 to 12. The purpose of the film is to educate children about the difference between good and bad secrets, as well as how to distinguish between secrets and surprises. In addition, a lesson is delivered on how to say “no” when someone is making them feel uncomfortable or asking them to keep a secret from parents or caregivers. The animated film is supplemented with coloring sheets and discussion questions to solidify the learning objectives. This prevention education has been provided in Iceland, in collaboration with the city of Reykjavik, since 2010. Each year the film is shown to 3rd graders by school administrators and teachers.
5. Prevention for Teenagers – A prevention program designed for teenagers 12 to 15 years of age. This integrative approach involves Blátt Áfram materials in conjunction with the 6 Steps to Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children literature. Engaging activities that involve acting and cooperation with one another are facilitated to promote further communication among the teens. This interactive presentation provides education about what is sexual abuse, who abuses children, and how to get help. In addition, there is a discussion about sex and the damaging effects of drugs and pornography. This prevention program aims to create a forum where teens are encouraged to ask questions in a safe, non-judgmental environment.
Each year since 2004, Blátt afram has provided public service announcements (PSAs) via media outlets such as television and radio commercials, as well as newspapers and interviews.These efforts have created greater awareness among the public on the issue of child sexual abuse, as well as education about prevention solutions.
Research has been conducted on the effectiveness of educational programs and materials provided by Blátt Áfram in Iceland. Additional information can be provided on this research. Gudmundsdottir, 2012; Gudmundsdottir, 2010
As a leader in child sexual abuse prevention in Iceland, Blátt áfram shares examples of the good practices in preventing sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. In summary:
To most effectively prevent sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, the government must be onboard with an understanding of the importance of primary prevention, i.e., the training of adults to prevent, recognize, and report sexual abuse of children. Government support in conjunction with continuous, awareness-building Public Service Announcements designed to disseminate information to help adults understand the prevalence of the risk of child sexual abuse, are effective preventative measures included in these public awareness messages is a Call-to-Action, advising adults to pursue each of the following: 1) further prevention education for adults and parents; 2) spell out a step-by-step process for identifying and reporting abuse; and 3) provide information about places where adults can go for assistance and support if they suspect a child is being abused. With these PSAs, Blátt afram carefully avoids scare tactics, but rather, aims to educate and empower people by providing them with the information to overcome. For this reason, Blátt afram takes a rounded approach by, not only raising awareness about the problem, but also the solution.
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