#ItsAPenalty campaign for Rio 2016

Today marks 115 days until the start of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Athletes from all corners of the globe will gather in the Brazilian city to compete at the highest level, and many fans and spectators are travelling to be a part of the Olympic action and atmosphere. It is estimated that over the course of the games, 380,000 people will visit Rio.

However, with this influx of visitors also comes a rise in sexual exploitation, with children at higher risk during major sporting events. Ahead of the Fifa World Cup in Brazil two years ago, the Happy Child International foundation, of which our Global CEO Katherine Corich is chair, began their inaugural #ItsAPenalty campaign. The aim was to highlight and prevent sexual exploitation of children, especially given the potential increase due to hosting the football tournament.

#ItsAPenalty drew support from famous figures across the globe. British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote a letter to endorse the campaign. The Metropolitan Police said “it was one of the best crime prevention campaigns they’ve ever seen”. Gary Lineker, David Luiz, Frank Lampard, Oscar, Ramires, and Alan Shearer were just a few of the high profile names that backed the campaign. The sports stars appeared on the campaign film, which was also shown on British Airways flights worldwide during the World Cup. It was a major success, being named in a UN session of the Human Rights Council for the protection of children from sexual exploitation at major sporting events.

Such was the success of the inaugural campaign that in advance of the Rio Olympics, both the Brazilian and British governments encouraged a repetition for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics this year. The 2016 campaign will expand on the World Cup run, including a partnership with Proteja Brasil, an app created by the Brazilian Government in partnership with Unicef for reporting exploitation. The campaign message is clear: if you see something, say something. 

In order to increase campaign awareness ahead of the event, the Happy Child team are putting together another film to be shown across a series of airlines flying worldwide during the Rio Olympics 2016. This involves high profile athletes and international sportsmen and sportswomen including Usain Bolt, David Luiz, Denise Lewis, Gary Lineker and Tanni Grey-Thomson; all calling for an end to child exploitation. 


Sport is a platform which encourages determination, ambition and support from peers. It also reminds us that these same principles can be used to ensure the end of child exploitation is achievable. It is hoped that together we can prevent and eliminate the exploitation of young children, with determination, ambition and the support of many from the UK to Brazil and across the globe.

To support the #ItsAPenalty campaign, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and look out for the official launch on May 4th

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