"I learned how to recognize violence, as there is more than just the obvious form" a student told us during ActionAid’s educational workshops about violence as part of the project Youth4Love2. From January to April, 20 workshops were held in 2 schools in Athens, with the participation of 106 adolescents. The themes on which the children worked were human rights and discrimination, forms of violence, school violence, stereotypes, power and abuse, cyber bullying and protection, gender identities and network creation against school violence. "Personally, it is very uncomfortable for me to go to the family if I am a victim of violence," said another child during the workshops, pointing out that children often feel they have nowhere to turn to in such incidents. The workshops were experiential, allowing children to really work on themes, through role-playing games, group work, simulations, creative expression work, and brainstorming. From the very first meetings, they studied the phenomenon of violence and its forms, while discussing how they feel about it and what can cause it. In an experiential way they recognized the points that unite a group and detected the role that each and everyone plays in it. After all, are there specific roles in a team? Is there anyone who would call troublemaker or, in the end, are there other factors that contribute to a riot? What is the role that each and every individual plays in the balance of the team? Stereotypes were another chapter that they studied in detail, as they seemed to accompany us from our childhood. Speaking of fairy-tale heroines such as Snow White, Rapunzel and Cinderella who were all sweet, beautiful and obedient women, who after difficulties, were rewarded with a handsome and strong prince, the children went into the process of thinking: "Is there a man who is not afraid? " with a student answering "the prince!". Similarly, during a role play, they hypothetically talked about a person working as a bartender with most children imagining him as a man, heterosexual, handsome, tall, fit, with tattoos, only to discover shortly afterwards that the bartender was a trans man. A boy from the group was impressed and remarked that "in the end, no matter how much we criticize the stereotypes, we keep them unconscious". In closing, a child told us "As a department we could not communicate and after the program I realized that we started to get closer, to communicate better." Education on such topics is very important in schools, first of all for children to better understand themselves and others and then to be able to recognize what violence means and what are the stereotypes that influence our behaviors and perceptions. By working in groups with children, teachers and parents, we can tackle school violence and bring about change.
How are we going to prevent, detect and address peer violence among adolescents? The project Youty4Love 2 aims to do exactly that, with the cooperation of Italy, Belgium, Greece and Romania and by focusing on five local communities. The goal is to promote the adoption of positive behaviors on preventing and addressing peer violence among youth, families, educational professionals and community members. Starting with the students and in order to learn more about their experience on youth violence in schools, ActionAid Hellas made 4 focus groups in Greece with the participation of 40 teen-participants. What is impressive is that the majority of the teenagers, reported physical violence and especially among boys, ranging from a push to a kick or even a knife assault. Something also important to note down is that none of the students who participated, seem to understand the severity of the incidents they described. So what exactly happen in schools regarding physical and verbal violence? “One day at school a group of boys started beating one boy, with no reason”, “two students right outside our school had a disagreement and after that they started beating each other”, “during a school excursion, where I was not present, I heard that a schoolmate took out a knife at two other persons of the school…because they had a fight at the past, the one boy got angry and started beating my friend hard, because of his anger”. Is physical violence and verbal abuse connected? It seemed quite difficult for the children to understand and report psychological violence and verbal abuse and unfortunately the majority of them either think of verbal abuse as a common practice or they connect it to the physical abuse: “…I saw a group of boys who pushed another boy and were making fun of his weight…they thought that something like that would make them macho”, “he was alone in a corner and in front of him there was a group of schoolmates who were making fun, because of what he was, about his identity. I never understood why. He was just different.” The last experience has a common understanding with the perception of the racist abuse as another child shared: “I saw a group of children isolated in a corner of the courtyard a boy who had recently come to our school. This child had come from another country and the children who made up this group of friends insulted him, with very ugly characterizations and they started beating him. This story went on for about 6 weeks and then that particular child decided to leave." Regarding the role of gender towards violence, the children, follow stereotypical beliefs, as they seem to believe that boys mainly use physical power and girls fight through words. But what does violence mean to the children who participated? Some of the words or phrases they shared are the following: “Bullying, different, something that does not pair with everybody, tensions, advantageous position based on unknown criteria, inequality, disturbance of normality, bad
The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. According to General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the commemoration, the International Day is an occasion to "disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness". The resolution reaffirms "the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence" and the desire "to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence". Introducing the resolution in the General Assembly on behalf of 140 co-sponsors, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. Anand Sharma, said that the wide and diverse sponsorship of the resolution was a reflection of the universal respect for Mahatma Gandhi and of the enduring relevance of his philosophy. Quoting the late leader’s own words, he said: "Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man". more info: https://www.un.org/en/observances/non-violence-day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LvKL3__zXk&ab_channel=TheGenevaCentreforHumanRightsAdvancement Video by The Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement - https://gchragd.org/
Youth for Love 2 has taken off! After a virtual kick-off meeting in May, the partners were able to meet physically in Bucharest, Romania. The meeting allowed for in-depth discussion of the project’s goals and objectives, and the development of future activities. We were also very happy to welcome some students online, who gave us their insights and feedback for the new version of the Youth for Love webgame, to be launched in February 2022. Each partner will now prepare for the first activities in their local communities. First on the agenda: focus group conversations with teachers, students and parents on their perception and knowledge of peer violence. These conversations will help the consortium to develop tools and workshops tailored to the needs of each target group. The workshops will be carried out in the first semester of 2022.