[YAMADA, IWATE, JAPAN, 21 November 2011]
As part of child protection assistance in disaster areas heavily damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Japan Committee for UNICEF (JCU) has partnered with Japan CAP Training and Action (J-CAPTA) in promoting a project that protects children’s rights, prevents abuse, and supports people in recovering their innate zest for life during the ongoing reconstruction process.
Specifically, CAP (an abbreviation for “child abuse prevention”; these are educational programmes that teach children how to protect themselves from physical and mental abuse) workshops are being held for children and adults from schools and orphanages in the affected areas along side a programme to train abuse prevention specialists in these communities. In October and November CAP specialist training seminars were held for adults that have interaction with disaster-affected children in Sendai and Morioka, where a programme was implemented for nearly 70 individuals during over 40 hours of workshop time.
On 21 November a workshop was held in Yamada Town’s Central Civic Hall based on the theme “The programme for adults to end child abuse: Treating each child like they are special.” This workshop was planned by child consultants from Yamada Town that participated in the CAP specialist training seminar, and marked the first time that a seminar was held in the affected areas of Iwate Prefecture following the disaster. Approximately 30 adults that have frequent interaction with children participated in the event, including social workers, school teachers and nursery staff.
The nearly two-hour workshop was split into two parts. During the first part, participants learned about the definition of abuse, why children are especially susceptible to abuse and methods for dealing with it. During the second half, participants watched a play that reproduced scenes of bullying, kidnapping and sexual abuse, for which children are particularly susceptible to, in an easy-to-understand manner. This helped everyone learn ways in which children can protect themselves. The participants then considered what they could do as adults. Participants discussed about things that they sensed during their usual interaction with the community’s children, asked specific questions in light of experience with their own children or grandchildren, and exchanged views with other participants. The atmosphere was very down to earth and each participant played an active role in the workshop.
One of the lecturers, Ms. Yoko Ishizuki (J-CAPTA Trainer), said that, “Even if children hold all of their feeling of discomfort in, these feelings will never disappear. Children will also present signs; signs to tell you that they want you to understand something. It is important that adults listen to what children say, affirm their feelings and work to create an environment where they can feel accepted.”
Two planners of this workshop, Yoshitomo Ueno and Nobuko Abe, both child social workers in Yamada Town, told us, “I hope that this workshop enables children to always be able to seek the advice of adults and help in making Yamada Town a place without child abuse. We aim to promote a style of urban development that will one day allow children to be proud of their town.”
The Japan Committee for UNICEF and J-CAPTA will be holding free workshops for adults and children from local governments and schools a total of 54 times in 15 locations throughout Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima Prefecture until February 2012. This project is to be continued until 2013.
Please contact J-CAPTA for more details on the workshops.
All photo credits: © Japan Committee for UNICEF