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Eliminating Violence Against Children through Positive Discipline

WomenStrong Kenya

Eliminating Violence Against Children through Positive Discipline

To counter and reduce the rampant incidence of violence against children in Manyatta, the largest informal settlement in Kisumu, Kenya, Alice Visionary Foundation Project (AVFP) has conducted a series of workshops in “Positive Discipline and Every Day Parenting” at Manyatta primary schools. To assess the effectiveness of this training and approach, AVFP subsequently conducted a monitoring and mentoring session at Magadi Primary School, where participants had the opportunity to define and identify the problem and its root causes and to participate in designing solutions to address the many attendant challenges.

The following were AVFP’s objectives, in conducting the monitoring and mentoring session:

1. To assess the problem of Violence Against Children (VAC) both in the Magadi community and in Manyatta as a whole.
2. To provide a forum for feedback on the Positive Discipline (PD) approach, as well as for further adoption and replication of best practices by the trained participants.
3. To provide mentorship and support to the trained participants in areas they find challenging as they begin to adopt the PD approach in their daily handling of children and parenting in general.
4. To strengthen the training outcomes and their impact on children in Manyatta.

In understanding the problem and in working to reduce cases of violence against children, we collectively defined types of violence against children, perpetrators of that violence and outside factors contributing to it. Read more about these sections in full in the full report .

Our session identified the following lessons learned and best practices moving forward and speaks well for the eventual impact of AVFP’s training in other Manyatta schools:

– PD has improved mutual understanding between parents and children and teachers and pupils.
– The program has empowered the target group on rescue and re-integration.
– The PD program has improved the learning environment for Magadi pupils, as the trained teachers pass this new approach to their colleagues and as the approach is now being embraced by the entire teaching staff at Magadi Primary School.
– Teachers can now control their emotions and anger as they discuss with the children their own reasons for making common mistakes. The teachers then are able to offer appropriate corrective measures devoid of physical, humiliating and too-often unjustified punishments.
– The schoolchildren, too, have changed their behavior, as they have become less fearful, more open to the teachers, and as they have begun to share their personal life experiences and difficulties more freely.
– There has been emphasis in the training and reported follow-on behavior on looking into possible common origins of children’s behaviors, before possibly condoning or rebuking them.
– Parent-teacher conflicts have lessened, as have the cases of victimizations of teachers by parents, in reaction to the physical and humiliating punishments of their children by the teachers.
– The school has taken up and emphasized the Positive Discipline approach with all teaching staff, and AVFP has been asked to replicate the training in all Manyatta schools and elsewhere in Kisumu.

After also identifying the strengths and challenges presented by the school institutions themselves, our session ended as participants arrived at the following conclusions:
1. There was an argument by participants that they were being challenged by colleagues who claimed that physical punishment has worked for decades and who wondered why they should stop it now. The moderator informed participants that, as result of such physical punishments in the past, countless children had hated school and dropped out. So many children with tremendous potential, he emphasized, had lost their motivation to stay in school, were left with painful memories, low self-esteem and depression, and their resentment, hostility and lack of self-confidence have had serious repercussions across their lives.
2. It is generally assumed that children’s silence in the classroom or at home is a sign of respect for their teachers or parents. When children speak or raise questions, they are seen, wrongly, as challenging authority. Children build their own understanding of the world and the people and objects in it. Their curiosity is innate: they are born wanting to learn and understand everything! Their questions and curiosity need to be encouraged and nurtured, so that their appetite and desire for learning only grows in the course of their lives. Children’s silence is not a sign of respect; rather, it usually indicates fear, anxiety, disinterest, boredom or lack of understanding.
3. There is a tendency to regard children as incomplete beings and to consider it the teachers’ or the parents’ responsibility to “build” them into complete people. In fact, children are complete human beings — they might understand things differently than adults do, but they are just as intelligent and have the same feelings as adults.
4. Children are worthy of respect and have inherent rights, including the right to full participation.

View the full report on AVFP’s monitoring and mentoring session of our resoundingly successful first training in Positive Discipline and Everyday Parenting. [Click here] to view the Save the Children curriculum adapted by AVFP for this training.

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