Don't Look Away - Virtual Conference
With nearly 145+ registrants from 50+ countries and an attendee rating of 4.7/5, INHOPE and ECPAT’s collaborative Don’t Look Away - Virtual Conference provided an opportunity for those working in tourism to share expertise for better protecting children online and offline.
Setting the Framework
Opening the event, Thomas Muller, ECPAT, and Samantha Woolfe, INHOPE, provided a background for the problem everyone had come to the event to tackle.
“We see the need now more than ever to tackle child exploitation…offline as well as online.”
Sexual exploitation of children occurs in five key ways – prostitution, child early/enforced marriage, trafficking, travel and tourism, online. These are complex problems, manifesting in nuanced and varied ways. Reporting is one of the solutions, but we know the vast majority of cases do not get reported.
That’s why ECPAT and INHOPE have come together: to amplify awareness and encourage reporting.
The value of The Code
Next, Damien Brosnan, The Code, spoke about the resources available to support the travel and tourism industry to be proactive in tackling child sexual abuse.
What part of The Code’s work have they found has the biggest impact? Empowering travel & tourism staff with training on child protection. Tourism professionals are not child protection experts; The Code teaches them what to report and how without fear of repercussions, and it's proven to be effective.
“We get reports every year of cases of trafficking and sexual exploitation of children that have been prevented due to company and frontline staff taking action.”
If you work in tourism and want to learn more about how your organisation can join The Code click here.
Turning to the tourism sector themselves, Leontine van Eerden spoke about what hotel chain Accor are doing to tackle child sexual abuse (CSA) with their Watch Programme.
Watch (We Act Together for Children), which is mandatory for all hotels to implement, has two key elements:
- Train and reaffirm the commitment of teams to ensure they understand the importance of and how to react to suspicious situations. Training should be given to staff at every level, multiple times
- Raise awareness with guests by displaying informational materials, including details of the Don’t Look Away reporting platform
How to Overcome Obstacles to Reporting
We know child sexual exploitation is under reported. Why is this the case? Celine Verheijen, ECPAT/Defence for Children shared insights from their research report.
Some of the key findings:
- 86% of people surveyed who witnessed a suspicious situation in the past five years did nothing about what they saw.
- Stereotypes about where and by whom abuse occurs lead people to misinterpret situations of suspected sexual exploitation
- People are worried about making false accusations, or of further involvement in a case
- Not enough people know about reporting websites
How can we increase willingness to report? People need to understand what happens after a report is made, and encouraged by hearing success stories. They also need easy access to reporting platforms including the ability to report anonymously.
You can read the full report here.
Diving deeper into the speakers’ experiences, Dushica Naumovska, INHOPE, chaired a panel discussion with Leontine van Eerden, Accor and Christian Byczek, DER Touristik Group GmbH.
Some of the highlights included:
- How industry works to reduce the barriers to reporting including capacity building, training, and overcoming language barriers.
- A suggestion for prevention by normalising asking for children’s passports before a hotel booking is made, and on arrival.
- The impact of COVID-19 on exploitation and the need for new strategies to face new challenges such as those online
- The importance of awareness within the travel industry of national hotlines and reporting platforms
Finally, Celine Verheijen, ECPAT/Defence for Children, and Charlotte van Lanschot, INHOPE, rounded off the session by emphasising the need for reporting.
People travelling abroad often don’t know how to report making INHOPE and ECPAT’s centralised list of links to report an important resource for protecting children. People are currently paying more attention to travel policies than ever; we must use this opportunity to make a mark.
“If you think a child could be in danger, don’t look away. Report it.”
Join us in spreading the word with INHOPE/ECPAT’s 2021 Don’t Look Away campaign. Click here to find out more.
82% of attendees found the webinar beneficial and informative, and believed it would result in further collaboration. Want to see how you can get involved? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to request access to the recording.
To get involved in INHOPE/ECPAT’s 2021 Don’t Look Away campaign and help spread the word, click here.'