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A new project to reduce violence against children in 30 communities in Moldova

2019-04-17

Physical violence and emotional abuse still represent a daily reality for many children in Moldova, both at home and at school. Terre des hommes Moldova, with the financial support of Oak Foundation, launched a three-year project aiming to prevent violence against children by engaging the entire community. About 70 teachers and school students from the 30 beneficiary communities participated in the launching event on April 12. 

According to UNICEF's Situation Analysis 2016 "Children in the Republic of Moldova", 76% of children aged 2 to 14 years have been subjected to violent methods of discipline at home and almost every second adolescent knows a colleague who is the victim of bullying at school. Acts of violence are largely caused and perpetuated, among other social-economic factors, by harmful social norms, a culture of violence in society and family, and low parenting skills.

In this context, Tdh works to combat the extensive phenomenon of violence against children in Moldova by:

  • preventing violence among children in schools by transforming the school environment, empowering children, and training teachers;
  • preventing child maltreatment in the family by improving parents’ capacity and empowering children;
  • and contributing to reducing harmful social norms.

More than 3000 children, 1000 parents, 300 teachers, and 300 child protection professionals will be engaged in project’s activities.

At the launching event, Mirela, a student from Chetrosu village, shared her belief that "one of the biggest problems in our school is violence among children, especially verbal and discrimination. In my opinion, these children, who cause "problems", should not be threatened or isolated, but involved in various activities." Within the project, Mirela wants to set up a discussion group for the students of her school, where anyone, regardless of their "reputation", can participate and contribute to finding solutions to school problems.    

In order to prevent violence and bullying in schools, our team in Moldova will support 30 schools to transform into non-violence centres by:

  • setting up and equipping youth friendly spaces in each school;
  • training and empowering 150 children to establish and organise "ALEG" ("I CHOOSE") youth clubs and to conduct peer-to-peer activities focused on preventing violence among children;
  • developing and carrying out training programmes for teachers and psychologists on preventing bullying and violence among children and a training programme for children on preventing violence, promoting gender equality, tolerance and participation.

Anatol Oprea, Child Protection Specialist at Tdh Moldova and the coordinator of the project, emphasised the importance of parents' engagement in this project, especially of fathers: "We want to change the belief that children’s education is the duty of mothers. I am particularly interested in this aspect of the project, because the active engagement of fathers in children’s upbringing and education improves children’s social and cognitive skills and increases their resilience."

For a safe and nurturing environment for children at home, Tdh wants to change parents' views on violent methods of disciplining by:

  • improving parents' knowledge and skills through a parenting programme and monthly meetings with them;
  • setting up nine new ludotecas ("Toy Libraries") that are a safe place for children to spend their time and participate in activities – and equipping with new supplies the 21 existing ones;
  • engaging children in psycho-social activities to develop their ability to act for their own interest and increase their resilience to cope with stress and adversity.

"Unfortunately, the belief that disciplining the child involves beating them still prevails in our society. This happens not because people are mean, but because they lack the proper knowledge. This is the main reason that the project hooked me – it emphasises the engagement of parents", says Eugenia Bordeiau, interim principal of the "Olimp" High School from Costesti village.

To change the harmful social norms that perpetuate violence against children, Tdh will focus on the active participation of fathers – an approach strongly promoted by the organisation. Thus, we will train teachers to carry out activities focusing on the importance of fathers' engagement in children's upbringing. At least 600 fathers will participate in monthly meetings and activities.

Other planned activities which will contribute to reducing harmful social norms include:   

  • training 150 children to participate in the social theatre programme who will stage social theatre performances promoting human rights, tolerance for diversity, gender equality, and participation;
  • informative session for child protection professionals on their role in shaping social norms and the strategies they can use as messengers of positive social norms;
  • and a small grants programme for the beneficiary communities to promote the positive social norms. 

This project continues our efforts started in 2004 in Moldova to prevent violence against children, by increasing children’s resilience, strengthening families, building the capacity of professionals, and mobilising communities.