The Smile of the Child
Member: NGO Premium
Voluntary Children's Association
10, Zinonos Eleatou Street, GR-151 24 Maroussi, Athens, Greece
The Smile of the Child: Safer Internet Day
On the occasion of the 6th of February, Safer Internet Day, “The Smile of the Child” organized an interactive meeting with the participation of middle-school students. The aim of the meeting was to encourage students to share their experiences from the use of the Internet, as well as learn about how to protect their virtual life like they protect their real one.
The meeting took place at the outdoor venue of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex inside “ODYSSEAS”, the 1st Mobile Lab of Information, Education and Technology of “The Smile of the Child”.
In his opening welcome the President of the Board of the Organization Mr. Costas Yannopoulos highlighted the following: ”Today we celebrate globally the Safer Internet Day by sharing good tips on the good and bad use of the Internet, especially by children. However, we must not forget that children and teenagers use the Internet on a daily basis as a tool for their study, as well as a medium for social networking. Adult digital illiteracy is a big problem making the provision of proper advice and knowledge to our children extremely difficult. What we have to keep in mind is that the solution against the risks lies in their protection and not the prohibition of the use of the Internet. We have to teach children how to protect their virtual reality in the same way we teach them how to protect themselves in their real life. Sadly, over the past years we have witnessed incidents of children who have committed suicide just because they were not able to tolerate cyberbullying, children severely traumatized as a result of self-harming acts which are very popular on the Internet these days and children who fall victims of sexual exploitation and abuse just because they trusted a so-called online friend”.
Psychologists of “The Smile of the Child”, based on videos created and realized by students–volunteers of the European Student Volunteer Network “YouSmile”, summed up their intervention around the following tips: “You would never do certain things offline. Protect your virtual life like you do your daily reality”. An interactive discussion among students and the scientific personnel of the Organization then followed.
Students shared personal experiences, as well as experiences of friends, highlighting the important risks behind a screen like cyberbullying, online addiction, etc. Useful tips were shared on how children and young people can protect their data, whereas the positive aspects of technology that children can utilize while maintaining their online identity fully safe were also thoroughly discussed during the event.
Upon the conclusion of the event, students had the opportunity to receive information on the operation of the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056 by “The Smile of the Child”, available to all children in Greece, for any problem, on a daily basis, nationwide, 24 hours a day, free-of-charge from land and mobile lines.
“The Smile of the Child” recognizes the crucial role of the school community in the field of Prevention and organizes interactive and experiential workshops targeted to students, teachers, parents and guardians all across the country. The interventions are realized by a specialized team of Psychologists of “The Smile of the Child” in the framework of a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs first signed in 2009, school counselors, Health Educators, the competent Prefectures and Municipalities. You can find more information on this action here.
It is worthwhile to mention that “The Smile of the Child” has contributed through its experience to the positive 7th round of evaluation on Greece (GENVAL) on the practical implementation and operation of the European policies on prevention and combating cybercrime. The evaluation was realized by the experts and evaluators of the Council of the EU and “The Smile of the Child” was invited by the Hellenic Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights to contribute with its experience in the field of prevention, awareness and intervention on serious issues of children such as child pornography, sexual abuse and exploitation, Internet safety and cyberbullying.
A number of actions, tools and services were identified as good practices from the experts of the European Council and were included in the final report on Greece that can found here.
Among these were the following:
- the operation of the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056
- the operation of the European Hotline for Missing Children 116000
- the operation of the European Helpline for Children and Adolescents 116111 (all lines are interconnected to the European Emergency Number 112 of the Civil Protection Secretariat)
- the interventions of prevention and awareness at schools across Greece through the Mobile Lab of Information, Education and Technology “ODYSSEAS”
- The European Student Volunteer Network YOUSMILE