Every year 1.2 million children are trafficked for sex, adding to the millions more already in captivity (source: UNICEF). These children, with an average age of 14, feed into a burgeoning child sex market with a value estimated by UNICEF at US$32 billion fuelled by the growing accessibility of child pornography via the internet. Trafficking of children is highly lucrative and, while profits are high, penalties are low in most Asian countries. Furthermore, trafficking and prostitution of children maintains links with sex tourism, since brothels are frequently found where transient groups of potential customers such as truckers, military personnel or tourists are known to pass. These child victims usually come from small villages, where awareness is lowest and often poverty is rampant.
Most South-East Asian countries are source, transit and destination countries for child-sex traffickers and pedophiles. There is clear need for education and awareness regarding the dangers children face. While, excellent programs for child protection have been developed by local and international groups in Asia, these programs usually do not have funding to include smaller villages where children are most at risk of abuse. Consequently, in these communities, families, authorities, teachers and even small NGOs are neither aware of the problem nor able to prevent it.
In the Philippines, a favorite child-sex tourism destination, the 1.5 million street children and many millions more living in urban slums are easy targets. For close to 20 years, Mindoro-based Stairway Foundation (SF) has helped hundreds of organizations that work with children at-risk. Using three purpose-made animated films on incest, pedophilia and child-trafficking, SF has touched hundreds of thousands of Filipino children. SF believes its approach and materials are complimentary to existing child protection programs implemented in Asia. SF also believes they could be used in Western countries to educate young people about the real-life effects of internet child pornography.
Since January, the Break the Silence initiative has been presented to regional trafficking organizations such as ECPAT and Somaly Mam Foundation, as well as to international organizations like UNICEF and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), the arm of the British government fighting child sexual abuse. All have shown interest in developing partnerships for distribution of the animations regionally and have confirmed the quality and uniqueness of the approach to working with communities around the issue of trafficking.
Background of SF
SF was established in 1990 by Lars C. Jorgensen, a Denmark native, and Monica D. Ray, an American artist who has written the stories behind and directed the animations. These are based on ten years working with child victims of sex abuse and were made to appeal to children’s imaginations as well as clearly illustrate the problems. The films are accompanied by training and cartoon books as well as manuals for use.
SF has to date produced three such animation toolkits, which have won various international accolades. The animations include the most recent, “Red Leaves Falling”, “A Good Boy” and “Daughter”, which use generically Asian faces for wide appeal.
Stairway’s current geographical focus is primarily limited to the Philippines in terms of direct intervention. While the first two animations produced by SF have been translated and used by a few local organizations throughout SE Asia, their distribution has been limited. The movies have not yet had the breadth of distribution that they deserve through an in-country, regional strategy. There is urgent need to widen the net of rural citizens exposed to these materials.
SF’s regional initiative
Stairway Foundation has decided to create a separate brand, “Break the Silence” (BTS) in order to enhance the regional distribution and use of its animations. Additionally, the goal is to build an effective awareness and protection program through local organizations that are able to provide a first line of support to children at risk of trafficking and abuse.
Incubated in partnership with the Hong Kong based ADM Capital Foundation, this program is designed to grow into a sustainable initiative driven by SF in co-operation with regional partners, sharing its approach towards reaching out and effectively protecting children at-risk across Asia. In this partnership SF retains the creative control and is responsible for product development while ADMCF helps with the regional expansion and distribution plans and manages the financial development of the program until SF will have strengthened its management and distribution team (in Manila) and will be able to run this initiative independently.
The project design is based on the concept of “hub and spoke” wherein the knowledge (media content in the form of films / flip charts and books and training modules) is developed centrally at the head office of SF in the Philippines (i.e. the hub) and then the information disseminated locally using one or more country-based BTS trainers and local groups.
Introduction to ‘Break the Silence’
The Break the Silence initiative combines awareness with a practical first line of protection and support for children at risk.
- the awareness component is derived from the existing SF animated films on incest, pedophilia and child-trafficking targeting children and their communities
- the protection and support component comes from the practical training of carers, NGO workers, teachers and local authorities to enable them to correctly indentify and protect the victims of abuse
Child protection programs are often based in larger cities and provincial towns and have limited reach. Often, these programs are not known by villagers, yet children and youth living in remote areas are most at risk of trafficking. BTS aims to create a direct link between children at risk and protection groups.
The goal is to identify one or more people active in smaller communities (from among teachers, health care providers, local authorities and charities), provide them with a copy of the animations and train them to use these effectively to help warn families, children and youth at risk. This individual or team would subsequently direct any affected child, youth or carer to an appropriate local provider of services (medical, counseling, safe shelter). Before training local groups, BTS would, of course, evaluate the protection and support services available in any specific area and provide relevant contacts to the local trainers.
The local groups that receive this training can be categorized as follows:
- local schools, hospitals / health centres, local authorities and police;
- child protection organizations in cities, towns and at village level; and
- organizations (with no child protection programs) working with children and their carers in small towns and villages
Break the Silence’s animated films cover different aspects of child sexual abuse and trafficking:
- Red Leaves Falling: covers the issue of child trafficking and internet pornography and can be used by all groups working with this initiative. BTS provides training to local groups to help facilitate discussion and maximize awareness. It also helps the local groups identify possible solutions to the problems faced by children and families (i.e. medical emergency, debt, grooming by traffickers etc. Each facilitator represents a point of first help and must be able to provide direct support and/or refer to organizations or authorities that can provide viable assistance to these children and families.
- A Good Boy: covers the issue of child sexual abuse related to street children and can be used by organizations working in cities as well as by organizations working in rural areas from which children and families migrate to urban areas. Once again, local groups showing the videos must be able to provide viable solutions to the problem (i.e. know which child protection NGOs, police task forces can be contacted in case of abuse, which emergency shelters are available, which NGOs can help street children in need, etc.)
- Daughter: covers the issue of incest and can be used only by organizations focused on child protection able to provide adequate support and counseling to victims of abuse or refer to organizations that can provide appropriate counseling.
- Red Leaves Falling, the newest animation will be the front end of the Break the Silence campaign due to its wide applicability to different countries and contexts. Further, under this campaign BTS plans to create new animations that build on the interaction of local child protection experts with Monica Ray. This will ensure the continued creation of effective material for those working with children at risk.
Impact of ‘Break the Silence’
By the end of 2011, Break the Silence will have developed a direct presence in eight countries, with materials available in 10 languages. Break the Silence will have distributed its material to over 500 groups (local NGOs, police, schools, clinics, etc), while directly training local groups and villagers in 50 locations in South East Asia linking children and youth at risk with police and local organizations able to provide protection hence preventing trafficking and sexual abuse.
Overall, by the end of 2011, Break the Silence will have reached 1,000 villages through schools, health centres, local organizations helping protect 300,000 Asian children, youth and mothers through awareness campaigns conducted with its partners.
Execution strategy of ‘Break the Silence’
- Entry strategy via country partners
Break the Silence plans to operate in each country through one or more local “country partner”, organizations that share the same values and at the same time provide the necessary infrastructure and resources to help implement this initiative in that country.
Country partners would be organizations focused on identification and training of social workers/carers of victims of abuse and would have the scale and capability to add the BTS initiative to existing training programs, with one or more senior staff focusing exclusively on this initiative. Further, training under this program is tailored to the local context and delivered to local groups. In some instances, Break the Silence can cover the salary of the indentified senior staff working with country partners.
This model is aimed at ensuring effectiveness and immediate efficiency through partnership with established local organizations that are familiar with local programs and best able to adapt material to the relevant local culture. Additionally, by working with existing organizations, BTS does not have to invest financial resources in creating new structures, hence drastically reducing indirect costs and concentrating investments in a few highly capable individuals, translation of material as well as distribution and effective training at village level.
- Distribution of the animation via larger organizations and / or child protection programs
Break the Silence is an open-ended initiative and the use of animated films is available to all organizations implementing programs to protect children from sexual abuse and trafficking.
BTS will additionally partner with larger organizations working with marginalized children in Asia (ECPAT, Room to Read, UNICEF, Save the Children, etc), offering materials to these organizations’ child protection initiatives. Larger NGOs should be able to pay license fees that will further contribute to the financial self-reliance of BTS.
- Cooperation with charitable foundations and other donor agencies
Break the Silence aims to cooperate with charitable foundations and other donor agencies in order to identify local organizations – supported by these donors – to be part to the initiative. Foundations and Western donor agencies represent a key channel of distribution to local organizations and another key aspect for the financial sustainability of this initiative.
Planned timeline for the execution
- Pilot phase (March – August 2010): currently being piloted in Cambodia. Further country partners are being identified for Thailand and Nepal where the program will start in the second half of 2010
- Phase I (July 2010 – March 2011): strengthen Break the Silence operations in Cambodia and begin operations in Thailand, Nepal, Burma (border region with Thailand) and Philippines while identifying country partners in Vietnam, Bangladesh and India (Northern states)
- Phase II (March – December 2011): start activities in Bangladesh, Vietnam and India and evaluate expansion opportunities in other areas through regional partnerships
We believe that once this program has reached scale and shown its animations and other training tools to be effective, BTS will be able to partner with international organizations working beyond Asia, again adapting the materials to be effective locally. This will take the animations to a larger audience in new geographies while allowing the creative team to develop new products addressing specific issues in child and youth protection.
In line with its open-ended approach, Break the Silence will use the web and social networks to create an online repository of experiences, resources and build a community of individuals and groups working on child protection and anti trafficking themes. The Break the Silence website will be available in local languages and offer resources to local groups (i.e. contact numbers of support organizations and police task forces etc). With the rapid diffusion of the Internet through mobile phones in counties like Cambodia, this will represent a cost and time effective method to provide up-to-date information to outreach workers and other groups active outside the main towns.
Red Leaves Falling, the newest animation will be the front end of the Break the Silence campaign due to its wider applicability to different countries and contexts.
The cost to develop a country based program range between $35,000 and $70,000. Amounts required per country vary according to:
- Number of local languages (i.e. the Thailand program will develop resources in minority languages as children and youth from these groups are most at risk of trafficking and abuse)
- Number of animations to translate/produce in local language (i.e. in some countries local versions of Good Boy and Daughter already exist)
- Number of Break the Silence local experts (i.e. India will require more human resources due to larger number of youth and children; Thailand will require trainers able to speak different languages)
- Number of copies of DVD and training materials to be produced (based on population and number of youth and children at risk)
- Cost of training is related to number of children and youth at risk to be reached in each country
- The investment in each country will ensure the establishment of an efficient distribution and delivery platform, enabling the sale of licenses (which covers the use of the animations and the training of facilitators) to foundations and international organizations for distribution to their local partners. These revenues will cover running costs, hence ensuring the sustainability of this program in that specific country. Pricing of licenses will vary based on the scale and financial ability of the organization.
-The country budgets are flexible, representing the ideal scenarios. In case of reduced availability of funds, Break the Silence will prioritize countries where the need is greatest and the potential for maximum impact is highest given the presence of strong country partners
-The budget estimate includes major cost items that will be incurred by the program in each country within one year of implementation of strategy:
- Dubbing/translation of existing animations: Red Leaves Falling for all countries, animations of child sexual abuse where these are not yet available in local language
- Production of BTS materials: printing of DVDs, flip charts, manuals and country specific resources
- Salary of country based Break the Silence experts: senior child protection experts will be hired by country partners and fully focus on Break the Silence development and training programs
- Training costs for local groups: local groups at village level – where no child protection programs exist - will be trained directly by Break the Silence experts
- Development of new training material: Break the Silence experts from each country of operations will work with Stairway to improve existing resources and design new animations and materials to educate children and youth at risk
- Other direct costs: rent, utilities, communication costs incurred by local Break the Silence experts
- Head office costs: include salary for the program manager (to replace Francesco Caruso – ADMCF’s children program director) management and development of Break the Silence, monitoring and training of partners, development of new materials and customization of existing materials and rent of office space in Manila
Lars Jorgensen, Stairway Managing Director
Monica Ray, Break the Silence Creative Director
Stairway Foundation, Philippines
Lisa Genasci, Chief Executive Officer
Francesco Caruso, Director Children programs
ADM Capital Foundation, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2810 6634