BY JAIME TERCERO
A brand new mobile app has been launched by our partner network Red Viva Nicaragua allowing users to report instances of abuse or bullying to local authorities anonymously, writes Jaime Tercero.
Six out of ten children in Nicaragua have experienced domestic violence at home and 75 per cent reported witnessing violence at school among students. This statistic was discovered in a poll of 300 children conducted by Red Viva Nicaragua in 2016.
A recent government report also highlighted that 50 per cent of all reported sexual assault claims made were committed against children – more specifically, girls under 13 years old. UNESCO has published data which places Nicaragua as the country with the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Latin America.
Over the past few years, we at Red Viva Nicaragua have been working hard to organise and promote training in reporting abuse within the local community, so that those affected by violence would know how best to ensure their abusers are dealt with severely.
However, the people the training aimed to help very rarely attended. Therefore, in a bid to encourage anonymous reporting, we teamed up with the National University of Engineering (Nicaragua) to create an app which enables survivors to report abuse directly from their phone! The app has been named ‘Estoy Con Vos’ – translated to English as ‘I’m With You’.
The app gives you two options: report a case of sexual abuse, or bullying. It then gives you simple and straightforward advice about how to report it or, if the user prefers to stay completely anonymous, there is the option to send your request straight through to the team at Red Viva.
The account doesn’t have to come straight from the survivor of an attack either; a concerned friend or family member can just as easily log a complaint on their behalf. If an incident report is received at the network, the information will be assessed, and the appropriate police staff are informed in order to begin an investigation.
If the case needs extra intervention from other organisations, network members can team up with other local groups who are able to provide support such as psychological follow-up. At the moment, eight cases have been reported, and most of them resolved at local level through these partnerships.
The press conference we held for the app’s launch was televised on two international television channels, which itself has created a new challenge. Two of the incident reports so far have come from outside of the local area the team is able to respond to. Our team has therefore been prompted to search for partner organisations beyond their current reach.
This is what Viva is all about: the beauty of working together through a network of organisations, each able to compliment one another’s methods of reaching children most in need within their area. Working this way provides the opportunity to achieve far more for children than would be possible through one single organisation.
We’re currently promoting the initiative across the local areas through festivals, parades and training, as well as through visuals such as t-shirts and banners. A handful of young people from these communities were asked to be interviewed on the morning news to talk about the app and the situation of violence in their communities.
For the future, we’re planning to introduce the app to the National Council of Organisations Working for Children so that it can be promoted at a national level by other NGOs. At the moment a global non-profit is interested in partnering with us after recognising the uniqueness of the reporting faculty of this app, which similar apps in the past have failed to achieve.
Momentum is definitely building with this ground-breaking initiative and, if the current trajectory of success continues, we hope it will be taken up by national organisations in the near future. Watch this space!
Jaime Tercero is Red Viva Nicaragua’s network co-ordinator
This article first appeared in Life magazine, issue 9