[TOKYO, JAPAN, 28 January 2013]
Child protection is a main pillar of the Japan Committee UNICEF's (JCU) reconstruction assistance campaign in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. In a collaborative initiative with J-CAPTA, JCU has launched a project integrating child abuse prevention (CAP) programmes with the objective of improving child rights, preventing abuse, and offering continued support aimed at restoring the will to live during the reconstruction period. CAP programmes are educational programmes that physically and emotionally protect children from various forms of abuse.
Specifically, JCU implements workshops for children and adults at schools and welfare facilities that receive child evacuees from the affected areas. These workshops are held in conjunction with trainings provided through CAP programmes that target local abuse prevention specialists in the area.
In 2011, CAP specialist training seminars were held in Sendai City (Miyagi Prefecture) and Morioka City (Iwate Prefecture), and again between September and October 2012 in Fukushima City (Fukushima Prefecture). The seminars have generated a strong response from municipal government staff, nursery centre workers, teachers and others involved in child-rearing activities.
Abuse prevention specialists who participated in the 2011 Morioka City training seminars implemented the first-ever CAP workshops for local residents in Yamada Town, located on the coast of Iwate prefecture. Additional workshops were later held at other coastal locations in the prefecture while practical efforts are made to expand the scope of workshops with the assistance of CAP Iwate. Participants in the coastal workshops voiced their desire for CAP to be extended to local children and for training seminars to be held at closer locations. The CAP Specialist Training Seminar held on this occasion in Iwate Prefecture's Yamada Town was a response to these requests.
Training seminars were split into two sessions: a three-day introductory session held from 21 December and a two-day practical session held from 19 January. A total of 27 people participated in the seminars from Yamada Town, Otsuchi Town, Kamaishi City, Miyako City and other municipalities within and outside Iwate Prefecture. Participation was received from a diverse range of professional fields, including civil servants, health nurses, nursery staff, teachers, children's social workers, child-rearing support and other NPO staff, students and others from various backgrounds involved with children. The seminars served as an opportunity for participants to learn theory and concepts related to abuse prevention education, acquire further knowledge about child abuse, learn techniques for holding workshops with children and adults, and to actively exchange views with other participants.
Ms. Abe and Ms. Ueno, CAP supporters in the coastal region of Iwate Prefecture who assisted the operation of training seminars, spoke passionately about the seminars: "Holding the seminar in Yamada Town was a great idea because it allowed for spreading CAP knowledge to local residents. Going forward I hope that CAP lessons will be disseminated to the children and local residents of Yamada Town."
One seminar participant said, "I feel like I've been given a small seed that will grow into opportunities to help improve our community. I plan to think about what I can do to make a greater impact." Another participated noted, "I have taken part in various volunteer activities before but this time I really learned something new. I am sure these lessons will be a driving force for helping to make the community a brighter, happier place." Another participant added, "If CAP becomes deeply rooted in the community, it will make things safer for children. I was very happy to network and have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people." Other participants spoke of their intention to spread CAP across Iwate's coastal region, building greater anticipation for future CAP activities.
J-CAPTA Chief Director Satomi Kimura told JCU: "CAP is a programme that transforms concern into courage. Through CAP activities I hope to make children living in the coastal areas understand that they are all important. On this occasion we have trained a new class of coastal CAP specialists. I hope that this leads to the establishment of new CAP groups in the area and the ability to provide programmes on a regular basis."
All photo credits: © Japan Committee for UNICEF