35 countries participated last weekend in a UN event in Geneva, initiated by The Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Aviva Raz Shechter, and businesswoman Ronit Raphael – addressing the painful topic of Child Sexual Abuse.
The event attracted diplomats and representatives of international organizations, that were exposed to new practical tools for increasing awareness and improving prevention of abuse.
This discussion was the opening side-event of the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - that Israel joined from its establishment. The Missions of Uruguay and the EU joined Israel in organizing the event.
According to the World Health Organization, 260 million children worldwide were sexually abused in the past year – 12% of all the children in the world.
Ronit Raphael, the Founder of L.RAPHAEL GENEVE, established a global movement called The Global Army against Child Abuse, with an aim to fight child sexual abuse worldwide.
The Israeli mission to the UN, led by Ambassador Raz Shechter, invited experts on child abuse prevention that shared their knowledge - and Member State representatives that can influence their Governments to implement new policies.
Raphael invited her U.S partners in the “Global Army”: Prof. Elizabeth Letourneau from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. Prof. Letourneau is the developer of the RBYC Program (Responsible Behavior with Younger Children) - a School curricula for 6th and 7th grade students (ages 11-13), designed to provide young adolescent students, their educators, and their parents with relevant skills to avoid problem sexual behavior.
And: the Founders of the Child Lures Prevention organization from Vermont, Rosemary Webb and Jennifer Mitchell, Personal Safety Experts, and the developers of the Think First & Stay Safe™ school program - America's leading personal safety training and school-based curricula.
Ambassador Raz Shechter, that opened the discussion, emphasized the importance of taking active steps of child abuse prevention; rather than only showing commitment. The Ambassador urged to invest resources in educational programs from the first grades till the end of high school. She predicts that such programs - for both children and educators - will not only increase awareness to child abuse, but also decrease its prevalence.
Ambassador Raz Shechter presented a few models that were adopted by the Education System in Israel, based on cooperation between the Government, NGO’s and the Police.
Raphael, that was honored to give the ending speech of the event, called Member States to see the issue as real war: "more urgent than any other war".
Raphael listed the main recommendations of her Movement:
1. To appoint a Minister in each country responsible for the protection of children
2. To implement compulsory educational programs on prevention and protection - from 1st grade to 12th grade
3. To develop complimentary programs for parents, teachers and social workers
4. To legislate rules with harder punishments for convicted rapists and abusers, especially family members of the victim
What caught the attention in the event, was when 13-year old Serra Raphael Leitersdorf, daughter of Ronit Raphael, described with courage the importance she sees in the war against child abuse. Serra touched the diplomats when she revealed how much she was afraid to hear or speak about this difficult topic, but after studying the facts - she realized how important it is to stand up against it.
Serra also updated the audience with news from last month in Indiana, U.S: Elementary school girl was taught a prevention program - and disclosed the abuse she allegedly experienced at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. The girl was allegedly abused more than 10 times in summer of 2018.
Walter Stevens, Permanent Observer of the European Union, congratulated the Missions of Israel and Uruguay for the event; expressed his appreciation to the discussion on this important topic; and agreed that this phenomenon should be treated as real war.
Raphael thanked Ambassador Raz Shechter for leading the event and said: "that was another important step in our war for the next generation. Since I was exposed to the horrible statistics on child abuse, I dedicate one day every week to this critical topic. We will continue to develop new practical tools for education and prevention - and pressure Government to act”.
Founder of Tom's Secret, Mrs. Ronit Raphael attended the Moore Center's annual child sexual abuse prevention symposium. Our partners Jennifer Mitchell and Rosemary Webb - Co-Presidents of Child Lures Prevention - joined the event as well.
The goal of the symposium is to bring together professionals in the field of child sexual abuse prevention to present findings from their research, discuss ways to improve response to child sexual abuse and develop stronger prevention initiatives.
The mission of the Moore Center, managed by Prof. Elizabeth Letourneau, is to support and conduct research that betters the understanding of child sexual abuse, educate policymakers and the public, and cultivate partnerships with organizations to develop proven strategies that prevent child sexual abuse.
A special version of the Tom's Secret video was launched with closed captioning for the hearing impaired.
Deaf children are at greater risk of sexual abuse than hearing children.
A special study on this topic was conducted by Marit Hoem Kvam, from SINTEF Halth Research Institute in Norway.
According to the study, deaf females reported sexual abuse with contact before the age of 18 years more than twice as often as hearing females, and deaf males more than three.
The type of abuse of deaf children was also more serious.
Very few cases were reported to parents, teachers or authorities.
In the United States, about 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children are born with hearing loss in one or both ears.
L.RAPHAEL is launching the Spanish version of Tom's Secret – the first animation movie that guides parents on how to identify child sexual abuse; and at the same time encourages children to share.
Tom's Secret was launched in 2013, in a cooperation with the Israeli Association of Rape Crisis Centers, and it is also available in English, Russian, French and Hebrew.
The potential audience include parents, children, teachers, social workers, medical staff, law enforcement teams and more.
According to a study by the University of Barcelona:
In Spain 10% of the boys and 15% of the girls experience child abuse; in mexico 18% of the girls experience child abuse; and in El-Salvador it is 17% among girls.
The Tom's Secret video on the YouTube cahnnel of Child Lures Prevention (CLP) has reached 600,000 views.
250,000 students have seen Tom's Secret in their classrooms as part of the "Think First & Stay Safe Curriculum kits".
L.RAPHAEL and the CLP organizaion will continue the distribution of the Tom's Secret video in the U.S, where 74 nillion children are living.
A new version of Tom's Secret, with subtitles in Greek, was launched.
The initiator of the new version is Ms. Elena Rapti, Member of the Greek Parliament and former Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Ms. Rapti (left in the picture) coordinates the last 4 years the Council of Europe "ONE in FIVE" campaign to stop sexual violence against children in Greece.
Among other actions, her activity includes over 400 raising awareness activities all over Greece.
According to a Harvard University report from 2017, child sexual abuse in Greece has become "epidemic" due to the increasing number of migrant children in the main cities of Greece. For Reference: Press here
Internationally Top Model Bar Refaeli supports the summer 2017 campaign of Tom Secret through social media.
The aim of the 2017 campaign is to raise awareness to the increasing number of child abuse cases during the summer months.
A U.S Federal study found a seasonal pattern in the prevalence of child sexual abuse: the attacks are significantly more common in the summer.
Link to the study: Press here
As part of the new campaign, thousands of leaflets were mailed to parents in Tel Aviv, and celebrities twitted on the project to millions of followers.
The campaign resulted in thousands of new views of the Tom's Secret educational video that guides parents on how to identify and respond in sexual assault cases.
L.RAPHAEL's Tom's Secret was chosen as a media production for the 2016 European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
The European Day's annual objectives are to raise public awareness of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, and to prevent such acts. The event opens discussions on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, and helps prevent and eliminate the stigmatisation of victims.
Council of Europe member States and civil society have ownership for marking and organising the European Day for children and for everyone who interacts with them in their personal or professional capacity (parents, teachers, law enforcement agents etc.).
The Council of Europe provides awareness-raising material and shares and promotes the different national actions and initiatives taken by member States.
L.RAPHAEL is launching the French version of Tom's Secret – the first animation movie that guides parents on how to identify child sexual abuse; and at the same time encourages children to share.
Tom's Secret was launched in 2013, in a cooperation with the Israeli Association of Rape Crisis Centers, and it is also available in English, Russian and Hebrew.
The potential audience include parents, children, teachers, social workers, medical staff, law enforcement teams and more.
In Switzerland, for example. according to Zurich University, up to 40% of girls and up to 11% of boys, have suffered from some sort of sexual abuse (from exhibitionism, to unwanted touching, or in the worse cases - rape).
Mrs. Ronit Raphael, Founder of L.RAPHAEL said: "we are active in the business side in Switzerland and France for more than a decade, and I am excited to start this initiative for the local children communities. Besides the educational value of the video, I hope that our campaign will pressure governments to implement stricter laws to reduce the rate of child abuse.
The Think First & Stay Safe™ School Program by Child Lures Prevention/Teen Lures Prevention (which includes Tom's Secret video) is expanding in the United States. Since January 2015, over 85,000 new students in 19 U.S states have viewed Tom's Secret video. Below are the new schools and organizations that were provided with the Think First & Stay Safe™ curriculum and Tom's Secret video: In the state of New York, 37,500 new students are being reached in 75 schools that have recently implemented Think First & Stay Safe™ and Tom's Secret, including,
In the state of Georgia, 14,000 new students are being reached in 28 schools that have recently implemented the program and Tom's Secret, including:
In the state of Illinois, 8,000 new students are being reached in 16 schools that have recently implemented the program and Tom's Secret, including:
In the state of Indiana, two Child Advocacy Centers taught over 6,500 new students Think First & Stay Safe™ and showed them Tom's Secret video. Holly's House in Evansville taught 4100 students in the 2014-2015 school year and Cherish Center Child Advocacy Center/Advocates for Children & Families reached 1500+ students in and around Noblesville, Indiana.
Additional schools and child-serving organizations teaching Think First & Stay Safe™ and showing Tom's Secret to over 10,000 new students in 15 states (Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas) include:
Working in global partnership, L. Raphael's Global Army Against Child Abuse and Child Lures Prevention continue to reach tens of thousands of new students with evidence-based personal safety education.
The animation movie Tom's Secret, that has become an educational tool in North America, Europe, Russia and Australia, was also accepted by the community of Guam.
Guam is a U.S. island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific. It has a population of 160,000 people.
The Government of Guam has decided to screen the movie in local theatres.
A grant from the United States Department of Justice will help the local government to translate the movie to the local language Chamorro.
The Global Army against Child Abuse has partnered with "Child in Danger" (CID), a children shelter in St. Petersburg, Russia, a branch of the St. Petersburg local government. As part of the partnership, the Russian version of Tom's Secret will be used as a tool for child abuse prevention in Russia.
In the last 20 years CID was home for more than 4,000 children, in ages 5-18, that were sexually, physically or psychologically abused.
The initiative will get professional support from Child Lures Prevention/Teen Lures Prevention from Vermont, USA, a child safety organization, active since 1985, that has developed research-based school curricula which are used in over 7,000 schools in 43 U.S. states and 7 other countries globally.
USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for Gymnastics in the United States, featured the Tom's Secret Video in its December 2014 newsletter.
USA Gymnastics, headquartered in Indianapolis, sets the rules and policies that govern the sport of gymnastics. USA Gymnastics has many responsibilities, including selecting and training the U.S. Gymnastics Teams for the Olympics and World Championships; promoting and developing gymnastics on the grassroots and national levels; and serving as a resource center for members, clubs, fans and gymnasts throughout the United States. USA Gymnastics also provides education resources.
Today, more than 120,000 athletes and professionals are members of USA Gymnastics. More than 4,000 competitions and events are sanctioned annually throughout the USA.
Tom's Secret was presented as an education tool at the KidSafe Sexual Abuse Prevention Seminar in Palm Beach County, Florida.
KidSafe provides children and adult education programs to prevent child abuse. This includes a fun and developmentally appropriate curriculum for children ages 4-11, KidSafe parent seminar, KidSafe staff training, sexual abuse prevention training for professionals working with children and KidSafe children's safety books. KidSafe has taught over 40,000 children throughout South Florida, and over 15,000 adults have participated in their lectures and workshops.
The Center for Educational Technology (CET) in Israel has included the Tom's Secret video on its online resource library, that serves 70,000 teachers.
CET, established in 1971, is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to the advancement of the education system in Israel, in the Jewish world and around the globe. Its goals are to promote academic excellence in the 21st century; to create equal opportunities to all Israeli children; and to preserve and revive intellectual and cultural treasures in the information age.
CET has 2,000,000 visits each month to its various websites
The Israeli Social Learning Network "Pass-the-Word” will integrate Tom's Secret in its network, in order to
instruct teachers, pupils and parents.
The "Pass-the-Word” initiative set the goal of bridging between the modern computerized world and the pupils and teachers in the Israeli geographic and social periphery.
The project was launched in 2006 in the Negev region. As of today, 47 communities and councils take part in the initiative, covering 76,100 users in 204 schools nationwide.
In the first phase a "pilot", in cooperation with the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, will be conducted in Sapir elementry school in the city of Lod.
A Facebook campaign promoting Tom's Secret has resulted in 1 million partial views, and 230,000 full views of
The campaign was headed by the Israeli advertising firm "Shimoni Finkelstein", which is part of the global firm Draftfcb, one of the largest global advertising networks.
The campaign targeted Facebook users which are likely to be young parents.
The aims of the campaign were to increase awareness for child sexual abuse, and to instruct parents on how to identify an abuse and react properly.
The Tom's Secret production was presented to Knesset members in the meeting of the Committee on the Rights
of the Child.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child deals with the protection of children and youth, and the advancement of their status. The Committee is headed by Knesset member Orly Levi-Abekasis.
The Committee Chairperson adviced to integrate Tom's Secret in the "Computerized Class Project" throughout Israel, and to promote its number of viewers using public TV channels.
Among the participants in the meeting were child protection experts from the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, the National Council for the Child, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health