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Children's participation in the UrbSecurity network

Edited on

07 February 2023
Read time: 3 minutes

Children's participation in the UrbSecurity network.

Many activities in our network were supported by schools and their teachers as an active part of their ULG. Thus, the children's participation was very relevant, both through active and participative citizenship exercises and by giving their point of view on the security of the urban space around them. These activities allowed them to make their contribution and their participation fostered a sense of social responsibility.

In Slovakia, the town of Michalovce involved children and their educators in a pedagogical activity, where children were asked to draw pictures about security. The best drawings were publicly displayed next to statues on the town's central avenue, allowing their families and the whole community to admire them and discussd safety and security issues.

In Greece, the school community of the town of Pella/Giannitsa, collaborated actively with the municipality and participated in the activities of this project and in a big public presentation of the works to the inhabitants of this town. So, eight schools of the secondary education created groups and inspired by the topic of the project expressed themselves in a very innovative, artistic, constructive and playful way. The actions of the students focused on the issues that come up in the city centre and encourage the local authorities, the associations and the citizens to take action and adopt responsible attitude towards the alleviation of the local challenges.
These children did an excellent civic service by using a wide range of means to raise awareness, such as: a campaign deterring drivers from parking illegally, videos showing a number of problem spots and behaviours in the city, a collection of thematic paintings, articles, animated stories, infographics, posters, brochures.

In Hungary, the association of Szabolcs05 municipalities carried out a test in the town of Mátészalka regarding the improvement of security conditions of a green park that is used by children. The group of their ULGs identified the need to improve the existing equipment and lighting of this green park and ended up making in their SSA activities a visit of local school children to promote the newly renovated space and the installed equipment, as well as disseminating good safety practices.

In Spain, the municipal police of Madrid uses social media to get closer to children and thus promote actions of dissemination through animated puppets, whose message intends to approach children and discuss the themes of child safety and security in the urban environment. This campaign promotes the image of the friendly policeman, bringing society closer to the activities of the municipal police of this capital city.

In Belgium, the city of Mechelen has worked with youth organisations on projects through neighbourhood networks involving volunteers over the age of 16, who keep an eye on public parks around their homes and schools and alert the police and maintenance service when they detect abnormalities.
In return, the municipality will improve and refurbish existing parks and create new ones. Encouraging mixed functions such as picnics and play spaces, incorporating more natural elements and natural equipment that allow games and activities also oriented towards girls, for example.
Nudging techniques are used to improve the behaviour of the users of these spaces, not only in the maintenance of the cleanliness of the spaces but also in the use of the existing equipment in the parks. In its SSA a feasibility test was carried out in a city park, through the attribution of the ownership of a Smart-Bench to its users, that in exchange for the surveillance they are allowed to charge their mobile phones through solar energy and have free access to the WI-FI network.

In Portugal, several schools of the city of leiria participated in the ULG groups and in their SSAs. This fact allowed, on the one hand, students to contribute to the project by identifying the urban security issues they encounter in their daily lives and, on the other hand, these same issues were typified and presented to the city council.
Two approaches were used, one through the method of serious games, which allowed captivating their attention and participation, and the other through the methodology of CPTED analysis, which allowed an exploratory walk around the schools and the identification in-loco of the problems identified by the children in the presence of municipal technicians and police officers.