Approaching the police when something has happened online can feel hard. Both because you might not know if what happened was actually a crime or not but also since there is little knowledge of what the consequences of filing a report might be. To make this easier we suggest installing a "buffer zone" that consists of different people, such as therapists and mediators together with different NGOs, that will support youths while establishing the first contact.
Anuja is 14 years old and for some time she has been receiving nudes from a stranger adult. At first, she was just laughing it away with her friends but now it has started to make her feel uncomfortable and angry.
While visiting the bathroom Anuja sees a poster on the wall. She decides to scan the QR code and an App Clip guiding her towards BUFFER opens. While exploring the page she gets to read about what the platform can support with and decides to move on and download the full app.
While at home Anuja picks up her phone to open BUFFER. She is guided through some questions on why she is visiting the platform today and answers that she wants advice regarding the unwanted nudes she has been receiving.
BUFFER then presents her with information on the topic as well as links to related stories from other youths that has been experiencing the same thing. BUFFER also recommends people/NGOs, that are experts on the subject, that she could reach out to.
Utilizing the search she made earlier BUFFER helps Anuja create a post where she describes what she has been experiencing. Since describing something in text can be hard, BUFFER tries to help out by filling in guiding words. The post is fully anonymous and the purpose is to connect her with youths that have experienced similar things as well as to get advice from experts.
Sara is a representative from an NGO that works with supporting and empowering youths. She has been notified by the post since it included tags that are connected to her account. Since the person that sent Anuja the pictures is an adult, Sara realizes that there has been a crime and decides to ask if she can invite Sabina, a police colleague, to join the conversation. Anuja has to actively accept this since after telling the police about a crime they, by law, have to report it. After joining the conversation Sabina informs Anuja of what might happen if a report is filed and then agrees on keeping this chat room open so that they can re-connect.
It is important that the threshold for gaining help through Buffer is low. Therefore we were thinking of places where youths might be more willing to explore the app. The idea is to utilize both the online world, through different social media and influencers, together with the physical by placing posters at different public places such as a bus stations or on the toilet.
Initially, we held 5 interviews with youths from different countries. However, cause of the very north location of Umeå, all interviews were held over Zoom. We tried an approach where the interviewer sketches what the person is saying and later lets them retell the story- hoping that new details will come up. Due to the setup, we had to improvise by adding a second camera to the call which was filming the paper. Surprisingly this worked quite well!
For the first workshop, we created four different card decks, each telling a specific story/scenario that we had gotten from the interviews. For example "What if you knew what would happen if you contacted the police?". In the session, the participants would turn one card at a time to try and figure out what they would do in that situation as the story evolved.
he second workshop was held together with the police. We had prepared different paper prototypes that we placed on a table in the middle. Then the participants were divided into groups, each working with a specific prototype, where they could either add notes of their opinions or add on to the idea by creating their own sketches.
To test the prototypes and concepts out, and get feedback, we created different video prototypes where we would act out different scenarios. These videos were afterward shared with the different stakeholders to get their initial reactions.
The final workshop was held online where we met up again with the same youths that we had talked to at the beginning of the project. We showed them our video prototypes to get their reactions and later made them prioritize what they found most important/essential for the platform vs. not.
The brochure is divided into five different sections and overarching topics: Foundations, Empowerment, Communication, Structure, and Support.
During this project, I reflected a lot on how one relates to the participant before and after an interview/workshop/project. I feel a greater responsibility in keeping them in the loop to avoid just “extracting information”, and in one way misusing the often personal information that has been shared. After the project was over our group spoke about how important it is to reconnect, show the result, and say a proper thank you to everyone who was involved.
In one sense this project touched upon a wicked problem. The police want to be there for the youth to make them feel safe and heard. On the other hand, the police are there to enforce the law which in many aspects makes it nearly impossible to create a relationship of trust. Another thing to take into account is that depending on where you are from you will have a very different relationship to the police. What we want to raise with this project is that the police do not necessarily need to be the people youth approach first for advice, and probably they even should not. Instead we want to highlight that collaboration between different stakeholders, such as NGO´s, is crucial to create a safety net around the youth and to guide them towards the right form of help.
Thoughts on workshops: One major thing I will bring with me from this project is how to design workshops. I believe our group prepared a too detailed first workshop which had way too many elements. We should have kept it simpler and thought of ways to just activate people’s imagination. In our second workshop, we spent less time preparing and used a freer format which turned out to work better for what we wanted to achieve. However, preparing in detail for a workshop is a great opportunity to narrow down a project direction. While creating material and exercises one is forced to somewhat define what the project is about. So even though our first workshop was not a success it still gave us value in this aspect.
Secondly, the outcome of a workshop is of course determined somehow by its structure and facilitation. However, it is equally determined by the amount of energy the participants give and how open-minded they are. My takeaway here is to think about how one can, even before the workshop starts, work towards making the participants more comfortable to achieve this.