A new campaign targeting child sexual abuse has been launched with the aim of raising awareness of the problem among primary school children.This content was published on February 19, 2006 - 11:50
Entitled "My body belongs to me", the project consists of a special interactive exhibition which will - for the first time - visit schools in the country.
The campaign is being launched by the Swiss Child Protection Association, which is hoping to take the exhibition to 1,000 classes by 2007.
"If we want children to be capable of defending themselves, we have to start early with strengthening their self-confidence," said Andrea Burgener Woeffray, the president of the Swiss Child Protection Association, at the launch of the campaign earlier this week.
"I am very happy that the interactive exhibition will allow us access into schools because in this way we can actively support teachers and parents in preventing sexual violence."
The project is aimed at explaining to children what type of contact they should accept and how to seek help in case of abuse. It is made up of six sections on subjects such as good or bad secrets and types of contact.
The organisers say it is important to break down the taboos surrounding the issue and are calling for more people to be aware of the problem.
"Sexual violence against children concerns everybody," said Burgener Woeffray, adding that it should be subject to "zero tolerance".
This is why the project also includes training for teachers and parents. It forms part of the association's wider campaign against sexual violence against children.
At first the government-supported exhibition will be piloted in the German-speaking part of the country, with four projects in the cantons of Bern, Basel Country, Zurich and St Gallen. It is scheduled to move on to western Switzerland later in the year.
swissinfo with agencies
The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child regulates children's rights worldwide.
Every country, except Somalia and the United States, has signed the convention. Switzerland ratified it in 1997.
Switzerland is obliged to submit a report on how the rights are being implemented every five years. The first was in 2002, the next is due in 2007.
Unicef has criticised Switzerland in the past for not doing enough to protect children from abuse, especially domestic violence.
No precise statistics on sexual violence against children exist in Switzerland. But experts estimate that among children aged up to 16-years-old, one in three girls and one in seven boys have been victims.
A 1997 Geneva study on 1,130 children found that 34% of girls and 11% of boys had been abused before the age of 16.
Most abuse takes place in the family or the immediate social environment.
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