Realtime Learning at End Violence Lab

Realtime Learning at End Violence Lab

Observations, outcomes and refections about preventing violence against children

Young Peoples Advisors: A Conversation on Violence Against Children in 5 Countries

By Prof Catherine Maternowska, Co-Director of the End Violence Lab. 

The Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF has funded a series of regional systematic reviews of INSPIRE interventions in Africa, Asia and the Americas: Accelerating What Works to End Violence Against Children: A multi-country study. Conducted by the End Violence Lab (EV Lab) at the University of Edinburgh, seven researchers from universities in Brazil, China, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Jordan, and Uganda — all at the doctoral or post-doctoral level — are working to map the landscape on violence against children and the efficacy of INSPIRE approaches. Collectively they have identified 40,857 studies under screening and review and to be followed by data extraction and quality assurance.

Because end-users of violence prevention services are too often excluded from the research design and implementation process, the End Violence Lab proposed to the UNICEF Data Collaborative for Children a series of youth-centred activities to the enhance this systematic review process. Young Peoples Advisors (YPAs) from five of the six countries are mentored by the review researcher in their country. YPAs range in age from 19-26 years, and are attending local universities studying geography, social sciences, medicine, and economics. The YPAs are on rapid learning curves around INSPIRE and violence prevention research, and at the end of their engagement with the project, will generate youth-centred outputs that include insights into what they learned and gained from the process, as well as a country case study on an INSPIRE intervention.

In this real-time piece, proposed by the YPAs themselves, we discussed how violence manifests in five very different country contexts: Brazil, China, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda. This powerful discussion brings up structural and institutional issues — or what the YPAs understand as the drivers of violence — that are too often overlooked both in research and programming for violence prevention.

Brazil

Hugo

Jade

 

What are the big issues affecting children in your country?

  • Structural racism
  • Sexual violence
  • Police violence

Who do you feel is most responsible for addressing these issues?

  • Colonialism
  • Political economy
  • Men are responsible for sexual violence, especially in a patriarchal society that creates the social problem of sexual violence.
  • The government is responsible for police violence—from the defense minister to the President, as encouraging the police instead of punishing abusers is common.

 

Do you think we can make a difference?

Yes! To do this we must ensure diversity in decision-making spaces in government and strategically ending systematic inequalities. We must address the most vulnerable: children, poor and excluded communities. In Brazil, this also means 15–24-year-old boys, because they are the most vulnerable to violence due to structural racism and police brutality.

China

Chuan

Jane

What are the big issues affecting children in your country?

  • Bullying
  • Sexual harassment

Who do you feel is most responsible for addressing these issues?

  • Governments
  • Schools

Do you think we can make a difference?

Yes! For example, the Ministry of Education issued a Zero Tolerance Policy on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment that applies to any gender of students. The governments and schools work together to implement the regulation, and a teacher or staff member does not have to have a previous record of sexual assault or sexual harassment for the policy to be applied.

Colombia

Ana Maria

Julian

What are the big issues affecting children in your country?

  • School closures due to COVID-19
  • Police violence
  • Sexual abuse of children

Who do you feel is most responsible for addressing these issues?

  • Teachers
  • Labor unions
  • Government

 

Do you think we can make a difference?

Yes! The government and civil society organisations have launched a campaign to prevent sexual abuse of children. This is a systemic problem, including violation of human rights by police, as reported to the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights. We must work on social media reports and fake news, as they can confuse people and hide the truth. For example, they say there are abuses on both sides, both the police and the people: sexual abuse against women and other forms of violence during protests, by police, and also on a smaller scale by citizens to police. Here, they say that even though all forms of violence should be avoided and prevented, it is important to differentiate in terms of power and scale between the violence perpetrated by police and by citizens. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic only added to the existing pressures on poor people, and, as a result, it derived in a National Strike as a way of protesting for better life conditions. We must work together to address the root causes of systemic violence exposed by COVID-19.

Côte d’Ivoire

Droh

What are the big issues affecting children in your country?

  • Domestic violence
  • Violence against children in schools
  • Child marriage (early and forced child marriage) Violence in prisons
  • Child beggars

Who do you feel is most responsible for addressing these issues?

  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • People in charge of children’s welfare

Do you think we can make a difference?

Yes! International organisations and the Ivorian government can put an end to this violence by launching awareness campaigns in and outside the media. Children also need to be included in the decisions—those most often impacted by violence are children growing up in poverty—we must create centres to receive these children and provide interventions that work.

Uganda

Mercy

Samuel

Mercy Samuel

 

What are the big issues affecting children in your country?

  • Child battering
  • Sexual abuse
  • Child marriage

Who do you feel is most responsible for addressing these issues?

  • Violence is multi-dimensional
  • The responsibility is shared, including police, health sector, teachers, and parents

Do you think we can make a difference?

Yes! It’s very possible. We believe government agencies are responsible for addressing violence. The legal bodies in our country, including the structures and laws, have to be changed. Parents also have a gap in sex education, and this makes their children vulnerable to the same knowledge gap. We know that if the parents are abused then the children are at risk.

 

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