Teaching our Child Safety Module to the Students at Helping Hands!
Our child protection initiative recognises that our duty of care to the children we work with also extends to teaching children about personal safety. Our Child Safety Modules are an extension of our Child Protection Policy which we have introduced at Picaflor House and Helping Hands.
Child Abuse in Cambodia
It is the unfortunate reality in Cambodia that many children are put at risk. The Cambodian Violence Against Children Survey 2013, found that at least 6 in 10 children experience some form of violence during their childhood. Furthermore, over 7 in 10 of these children will experience multiple instances of abuse, according to UNICEF Cambodia.
In addition to abuse in the home, children are also vulnerable to child predators. Children often find themselves looking for work to support their families instead of attending school. When there is no parental supervision, these little workers are at the mercy of strangers and tourists. It is in this way that Cambodia has found itself to be popular in the child trafficking and 'sex-tourism' industries.
Lasting Effects of Child Abuse
The effects of abuse on a child’s development and well-being depends on many different factors including gender, age, resilience, number of occurrences and type of abuse, just to name a few. The consequences of child abuse or neglect generally fall into the following categories:
- Mental health problems, including depression and suicide.
- Behaviour problems.
- Physical health problems.
- Attachment and interpersonal relationship problems.
- Learning and development problems.
- Alcohol and drug abuse.
- Aggression, violence and criminal activity.
While physical effects of child abuse generally fade or heal, the psychological and social impacts are devastating and lasting. Many studies prove that childhood experiences impact future behaviours. Some studies even conclude that abused children tend to become abusers themselves, or are more likely to also experience abuse as an adult (such as domestic violence).
Child Protection Programme
In 2019, we took our Child Protection programme to the next level!
Here at Globalteer, the protection of the children we work with is a number one priority. That is why we revisited, extended, and developed our existing policy into a series of 10 Child Safety Modules for our projects' curriculum. With the help of surveys, we consulted our students, staff, parents and the community on what they thought needed addressing. After all, the programme is far reaching; to increase education and awareness among families and the local community about how to make sure the children are safe not only at our projects, but outside them as well.
The new programme was initially introduced in Peru and implemented at Picaflor House. Later, it was introduced in Cambodia at Helping Hands. The modules also train our teachers on risk factors for children's safety.
We hope to do everything we can to protect the students while they are at school. As well as educating them to identify safe and unsafe situations to keep themselves safe at all times!
Child Safety Modules
The modules to teach children safety include;
Research has shown that confident children are less likely to be victims of child abuse. This unit is not only a class, but an ongoing goal to build confidence and encourage the children to believe in themselves.
Identifying feelings, as well as distinguishing between good feelings and bad feelings is important when learning to 'trust your gut'. Ensuring effective identification will enable correct reactions to that feeling and circumstance.
Preparing children with a list of trusted adults and how to approach the subject of feelings is integral to ensuring the child's everyday safety.
Safe and unsafe touches.
Through this module children will understand that there are parts of their body that should not be touched by anyone but themselves, or sometimes a doctor.
Secrets and surprises.
This module teaches children that some things should never be kept secret (even when told by an adult). They are taught to distinguish a secret that should never be kept from that of a surprise, such as a surprise birthday celebration.
Interactions with strangers cannot be avoided, so this lesson is a guide for how to navigate interactions with strangers in the most safe way.
This module teaches them the basics of being out and about on the farm or in town. Such as, how to be safe around busy roads or sticking to well lit areas when it's dark.
This module teaches children how they can use the internet in a safe way.
In rural Cambodia, people still cook with open fire. So, this module focuses on how to keep safe around open flames, smoke and fumes. As well as, identifying other hazards in the home.
While it is important for the children to be aware of the dangers, the most important part is to help them identify how to best avoid or minimise these risks and what they should do when they feel unsafe.
Educating Teachers and Families
Part of the programme also focuses on workshops for teaches, not only on child safety itself, but also on how to teach these subjects to children. Some of the topics may be uncomfortable or difficult for the children to understand. It is therefore important that the teachers are provided with the skills needed to teach children of varying ages these sensitive topics in a way they can understand. This can included games and activities, not only to help understanding, but to help the kids feel confident and enjoy the classes.
Our social worker at Helping Hands, Kong, also plays a big role in helping to educate families and the local community. In some cases parents may not even be aware they're mistreating a child due to persistent cultural norms in rural areas and a lack of education. Kong visits families in the village to educate them on child abuse and safety. She provides them with the skills to improve family relationships and parenting practices. Parents are also taught how to recognise the potential signs of abuse.
Making Safety Fun!
The teachers have been doing a great job at making the lessons fun and enjoyable for the children. Enjoyable lessons are more likely to be remembered and make a lasting impression, which is an essential part of teaching children about safety! So far the children seem to be enjoying the lessons and ask lots of questions. Their sparked interest and engagement gives us confidence that we are equipping the students with valuable skills they need to help keep themselves safe!