Protection from Abuse and Neglect :
I have recently been elected in a new statewide project in Minnesota to create and provide leadership in a small scale voluntary association for children. The focus of the small scale association is based on the United Nations General Assembly that adopted a Convention on the rights of the Child. It is a program to provide information and knowledge on the substantive right for Protection from abuse and neglect designed specifically for children. The right states that the State shall protect the child from all forms of maltreatment by parents or others responsible for the care of the child and establish appropriate social programs for the prevention of abuse and the treatment of victim.
The purpose of the new state-wide small scale association is to inform children through first-hand knowledge and example on the protection from abuse and neglect. The substantive right is very important for children to know and understand in case they or someone they know is ever involved in an abusive situation. The small scale association is limited to children so they can feel free to express their experiences and ask questions openly to others without having to worry about adult supervision. This may interest children to comment on situations and on general conversation that they normally would be scared to ask their parents. I feel that this is relevant to children in today¹s society because these situations of abuse and neglect occur in many households, and children either do not know their rights or fail to take action to them.
The kinds of topics and issues discussed in the association and in connection with children’s rights will vary according to importance. The beginning stages of the meetings will consist of examples and definitions of what abuse and neglect constitute. We will then as a group apply what we know to everyday situations in which these forms of maltreatment by parents or others responsible for them. Next we would apply these situations to the substantive right for Children according to what the United Nations Generally assemble established. In connection with the Bill of Rights and through discussion, children will learn that they might have been involved in a situation of abuse or neglect and failed to realize it. This gets aback to the focus of the small scale association which is to inform children what the Protection from abuse and neglect really means and what they can do about it.
After the early stages of the meetings where we introduce the substantive right, the group will become further involved in field trips and activities. This will aid the children to learn through first hand experience and in interactive activities what the State considers ³Protection from abuse and neglect. Once every two months, the group will take a field trip to an area correctional abuse center where we will hear firsthand from counselors who help abusive adults deal with their problems. The counselors will provide such useful information as warning signs for children in abusive and neglect situations, advice on how to approach adults who abuse them and who to tell and talk to about these kinds of situations. Through experience with abusive adults, counselors will stress the point to children that maltreatment is not uncommon in households and is usually repetitive. Children need to learn that it is not their fault in neglect situations and they should not blame themselves for the harm they receive.
Another activity that the group will participate in is through interactive group skits. Individuals will be assigned a role in which they must respond actively to the situation. For example, a child may play a frustrated adult who returns home after l long day of work. The adult might swear and then strike the child, and the child will practice to act responsively by talking to his parents and go as far as reporting it if the situation continues to occur. After months of studying and learning, the children will take their knowledge to the public.
The projects that the children will be involved in is a variety of surveys of other peers and children to provide statistical information about adolescents in the area. From there, children will be asked to pass out information to parents and children in the neighborhood about abusive and neglect situations, warning signs and whom to contact in social programs for the prevention of abuse and the treatment of victims. By doing this, will also promote the strength of our program to other children in the area and convince them to become involved in our small scale voluntary association.
For those of you who may have missed last week¹s meeting, I have here an overview of what we covered. The two hour meeting was broken down into six different twenty minute topics about what have been covering lately.
1) The first block was designated to small group discussion about everyday family disorders. In other words, we talked about what was going on at home. Discussion questions included…Are there any stressful situations that your parents have been having that you have noticed? What sort of extra stress, if any, have you been putting on your parents? Describe the relationship you have been having with your family, is it open and comfortable?
2) Large group discussion about defining abuse and neglect and the rights we as children have. In this section we stressed that abuse and neglect are common, however, not realized. We also discussed our rights under the Convention on the rights of the Child² and what that means to us.
3) Large group discussion of warning signs of abuse and neglect. Here we talked about ways in which adults handle certain kinds of family situations. Also how parents handle family crises. Discussion questions included…Give two examples of warning signs; are there ways of stopping the problem before it is too late?
4) Group discussion on how to approach abusive adults. We talked about ways we can talk to parents and adults about what are it that they are doing that bothers us. Also, how important it is that we do mention the problem to the adult so the situation does not continue to occur.
5) A guest speaker talked about area social programs for the prevention of abuse and the treatment of victims. Here we became more aware of people to talk to or seek help if we are put in an abusive situation. The speaker stressed the importance of telling someone else if something at home is bothering us because there are others out there who are experiencing the same thing.
6) The last twenty minutes was designated to questions and answers. This was time set aside at the end for children to ask questions about things covered during the meeting, or anything else. - Protection from Abuse and Neglect
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