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Child Sex Tourism Campaigns: The need for dialogue on indicators and evaluation strategies

October 2, 2002 · 


ECPAT should congratulate itself. No other human rights or environmental campaign has influenced the international tourism industry in the way that the campaign against child sex tourism has done. ECPAT groups have been at the forefront of campaigning and some of the first leaflets and posters ever produced 10 years ago were by PEACE in Sri Lanka and ECPAT Philippines, both still active in campaigning against child sex tourism.

 So why does child sex tourism still exist?  Does this mean that the international campaigns to prevent child sex tourism have failed to make an impact?

 The answer to the last question is clearly no, there has definitely been an impact but how do we evaluate it?  More importantly how can we learn from it so that future campaigns can become more successful?

 Many ECPAT groups have developed creative campaign actions based on communicating, a message through posters, leaflets, luggage labels, stickers and more recently through TV spots and in-flight videos.  Most of these actions have been awareness-raising activities but once we have raised awareness in the community what do we do next?  Raising awareness is only one part of the prevention cycle.

 Other stages in the cycle include defining the problem through research and consultation, initiatives to reduce the root causes and program evaluation.  All of these stages can include the active participation of stakeholders including those most affected. 

As ECPAT crows, new partners look toward established campaigns for models that they can replicate.  However, within the ECPAT movement we have been slow to analyse the collective impact of our campaign actions using a common set of indicators.


 The most elusive yet most important question is what are we trying to achieve and what indicators can we use to measure it?  Of course we are working toward a higher goal of eliminating, commercial sexual exploitation of children – but a leaflet or a poster on it’s own won’t do that.

 If successful campaigning is about achieving a change of behaviour or attitude then a campaign tool such as a leaflet, poster, sticker or in-flight video should have a clearly defined objective and a set of indicators to help measure its effectiveness and contribution to the overall success of the campaign.

 The best way to develop indicators for monitoring and evaluation is by being as detailed as possible about the purpose and objective of the campaign tool and then develop a plan according to the specific needs of the audience (target market).  The tool will be more successful if you match the right message to the right audience and distribute in the right location segmenting the market).

 Some indicators are easily defined but planning is still important.  For example, a leaflet that’s purpose is to encourage people to report child abuse to a police hotline and it’s objective is increased reporting of child sex crimes then one indicator would be the number of phone calls made to the police hotline.  But have you planned thoroughly for other variables?  Is the hotline open 24 hours?  Can people call it from other locations without incurring long distance charges?  Do the police service have the capacity to handle a large volume of calls?  Will the police service give you statistical data to evaluate? What is the target audience that you want and how will you get the leaflet to them?

 Alternatively, if the leaflet is about deterring the potential offender what planning have you done?  Why have you made the assumption that an offender will be deterred by reading a leaflet?  Have you asked offenders whether they would be deterred if they had seen a leaflet?  If so, how will you get your leaflet to places that best targets the potential offender?

 Once you have gone through these and other more specific questions it becomes easier to develop indicators for monitoring and evaluation strategies.  The first example is straightforward: the number of calls to police.  But in the second example the indicators become less clear.  Measuring the prevention of a crime is a difficult concept especially when baseline data is not available.


 Evaluation comes in four basic forms – process evaluation, content evaluation, impact evaluation and ethical evaluation.  Most of us find it easiest to do process evaluations.  For example: we produced 20,000 leaflets at x cost, distributed to y outlets between the months of June to December.  Most donor agencies ask for this type of quantifiable evaluation. 

However, in order to measure the overall contribution to the campaign we should attempt to follow through with the other three methods, especially impact evaluation. Unfortunately, donor agencies are not always sympathetic to extending funding for these purposes once the activity is completed. Lack of funds is a real barriers to effective planning and evaluation.

 Impact evaluation should include a medium to long-term review process through methods such as focus group discussions, stakeholder consultations and surveys for feedback. For example, in the case of the leaflet encouraging people to report child abuse to police what impact has this had on the police as well as on child victims? Were the police adequately trained to handle an increase in the volume of calls? Were there adequate legal and welfare services for children who were rescued as a result of increased calls? Has the increase in calls resulted in increase convictions or additional resources for police and other services protecting children?

 With impact evaluation we also must face the possibility that there was no impact or negative impact. This is difficult to report especially when future funds are dependent on a successful outcome. However, by documenting and sharing lessons learned the implementing agency will help others to improve future campaigning activities.

 Content evaluation includes things such as ‘ readability’ or clarity of language and style, effectiveness of visual images, appropriate use of multiple languages to cater to different nationalities or ethnic groups. Does it give enough direction to the audience to help them do what they are being asked to do? Focus groups and surveys are a good way to evaluate content.

 Ethical evaluation is rarely done but an important reflective tool. One outcome of child sex tourism campaigns has been the tendency for police authorities in some countries to do a ‘sweep’ of sex workers off the streets. This would be considered an ethical issue and would have to be addressed as part of the overall campaign planning and evaluation.

 Child Sex Tourism is a global phenomenon – it is crime that knows no borders and offenders are using new, often sophisticated ways of avoiding detection.

 Prevention requires international coordination in law enforcement, policy, programs and campaigning and we, as campaigners, should be keeping up with trends in campaigning techniques and methods, including evaluating our impact on a national, regional and global scale.  

In developing their 2001-2003 national campaign against the sexual exploitation of children in tourism, the Brazilian Tourist Board (EMBRATUR) in collaboration with various governmental and non-governmental organizations strategically decided that the campaign should be informative and direct, but the tone would not be aggressive or negative. The material would be kept simple, not cluttered with text, and images of children would not be used.

Its goal is to win visitors about the severity of Brazilian laws against child sex tourism, and to invite conscientious citizens to help in the fight against this abuse by providing a toll free reporting hotline. An initial evaluation, strategically conducted during Carnival, are positive and reveal optimistic numbers regarding its impact.

 Respect, the Austrian Center for Tourism and Development, conducted an evaluation of the in-flight video screened on Austrian Airlines on their long haul flight to India and South Africa.

 Quantitative data, based on a questionnaire, was complied, and face-to-face interviews by a team of researchers working on the flight provided qualitative data. 87% of the interviews received the video positively, and approved of this type of awareness action in-flight. The majority felt that the tourism industry has not been active enough in terms of passenger education. Prior to the video, nearly 50% of the interviews were unaware of the possibility of prosecution in their home country. Negative reactions, where they occurred, might have been provoked by the fact that the video was screened without preparing (i.e. informing) the passengers of the nature of the content.

By Chris Beddoe  Child Wise (ECPAT in Australia)


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