Healing Brazil’s Children: Digitally Carinho de Verdade #carinhodeverdade

The Carinho de Verdade (True Affection) campaign is a mobilization strategy that is using social media to promote awareness against the sexual exploitation of children. Launched in October last year in Rio de Janeiro, it is driven by various government agencies, charities, and the country’s largest Media Conglomerate – Rede Globo.

The campaign aims to put together a plan of action that promote debate and disseminate information through social networking sites such as Orkut, Facebook and Twitter.

Its organizers describe it as a “project of social education to build a new culture of awareness about the seriousness of this problem.”

It is building upon the work that has been done by pressure groups and charities for many years, which have run victim helplines and services that allowed people to denounce perpetrators of sexual abuse against minors.

With such a noble cause to champion, and the fact that most of the country’s biggest stars are contracted to Rede Globo, the campaign has had no shortage of celebrity backing. Its website boasts page after page that reads like a “who’s who” of Brazilian TV stardom.

But prominent athletes, musicians, writers and notables from all walks of life have also joined them in posing in a self-hug, the symbol of the campaign.

All the celebrities that have lent their weight to the campaign then used the hashtag #carinhodeverdade on their profiles to promote it and help towards the aim of reaching 50,000 tweets in support of the cause.

They even coined a new term for it: “twitaço”, which is kind of like a “mega tweet”.

This is a great example of how the enormous power of social networks can be used not only to create movements, but to consolidate and strengthen smaller movements as well.

There have been great initiatives over the years to counter sexual exploitation and trafficking of children in Brazil, but this campaign has brought all the charities together with government agencies, a bit of stardust and a massive amount of public goodwill, and the result is much bigger than the sum of its parts.

With Brazilians being avid users of social networks and an increasing percentage of the population getting access to broadband, it seems unlikely that this is the last initiative of this kind we will be seeing.

If you’d like to support the campaign, just tweet with the #carinhodeverdade hashtag  and know that you’re in very good company!

** Images from images.google.com**

Alice Bonasio is a Brazilian/American/Italian writer specializing in Digital Cultures, fashion, and all things Brazilian. She has been published in Gamestm, Edge, The Escapist and 360. She is currently finishing an MA in Creative and Media Enterprises at the University of Warwick. She lives in England and is a PR Executive for one of the UK’s hottest tech start-ups, The Filter. Visit her website, contact her on LinkedIN and follow her on Twitter.

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