VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Ending violence against children: How the IRC helps
July 31, 2013 by The IRC
|In northern Uganda, IRC-trained mentors provide support to young mothers who may not have had positive role models growing up during wartime. Through programs like this one, the IRC has found working with parents significantly reduces harsh discipline of children and other violence in the home. Photos: Kate Sands Adams/IRC|
War, conflict and natural disaster inflict a terrible toll on children — but even in times of peace, violence, neglect and abuse continue.
Every year as many as 275 million children around the world suffer violence in their own homes, according to UNICEF. It’s a hidden humanitarian crisis that affects an entire generation.
The International Rescue Committee is partnering with UNICEF, other humanitarian organizations, and communities and families to bring an end to this violence. Since our founding in 1933, the IRC has worked to ensure that children are safe and cared for. We help develop their potential through innovative health, education, and livelihoods programs. And we are increasingly focusing attention on the place where the future begins for girls and boys: at home.
Ending violence at home
The IRC is providing support to parents in some of the toughest places to raise a child — such as Uganda and Liberia, where families are struggling to recover from civil war, and Burundi and Thailand, where refugees and migrants are working to build new lives.
We’re helping these parents better understand child development, learn to cope with stress in their lives, improve communication with their children, and replace corporal punishment with nurturing discipline techniques. We also train community mentors and bolster local social services to make sure families have a safety net.
In northern Uganda, for example, we’ve matched young mothers — who may not have had positive role models gowing up during wartime — with older women who are willing to share their experiences raising their own children.
“Young parents handled children roughly, pulling them by the cheeks,” recalls one mentor in the village of Lugolo, in northern Uganda. “The philosophy of parenting in our time was different. We wouldn’t cane our children as punishment. We took a more friendly approach to parenting: discussing why, speaking to our children, engaging them.”
Through our programs and research, the IRC has found that strengthening parents’ capacity to protect and care for their children results in a healthier and happier family life — even in communities like Lugolo that are recovering from crisis.
Early reports from the IRC’s “Parents Make the Difference” program in Liberia have already shown a positive impact in the lives of kindergarten-age children from low-income, rural families, according to Eduardo Garcia Rolland, the IRC’s child protection technical advisor.
“Through working with parents, we have reduced violence against children — harsh punishments — by more than 18 percent in less than a year,” Eduardo says. “It’s incredibly encouraging.”
Children and youth are extraordinarily resilient. By supporting the next generation, and their parents, we are helping to end violence and build healthy and productive societies.
Learn more about protecting children from violence
In places like war-torn Syria, classrooms provide children with a safe learning space to recover from trauma, develop bonds with other children, exercise their imaginations and build a foundation of learning that will help to heal and strengthen their families and communities into the future. Creating safe spaces for children in Syria.>>
End violence against children – get involved
Join the IRC, UNICEF and other partners in a global campaign to end violence against children. Visit the campaign site at Unicef.org/endviolence.
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