New programme aims to prevent violence in schools

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(Ministry of Education) GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands –  The ability to define and identify an issue is often the key to its prevention. That is why the Ministry of Education with the support of the Cayman Islands Red Cross has been piloting a programme that aims to empower youth with information on topics like violence, gender and sexuality.

It’s Not Your Fault, a violence prevention programme from the Canadian Red Cross, trains staff and most importantly youth, to be able to identify what abuse, exploitation, neglect and maltreatment look like and how to get help. The curriculum was adapted and localised with the help of community stake holders and students from John Gray High School (JGHS) and Clifton Hunter High School (CHHS) were trained as Peer Educators to help deliver this well-received pilot programme, sponsored by Help for Children, a global foundation supported by Hedge Funds Care & Private Equity Cares.

“It’s not your fault” training underway

On 18 May, 26 Year 10 Students from JGHS and CHHS, 14 support staff, 2 Ministry of Education staff and the local Red Cross’ Deputy Director all underwent the intensive two-day training on the It’s Not Your Fault violence prevention programme. The training was conducted at the Red Cross Training Room for the combined group. Ministry officials say this prepared them to deliver lessons to Year 8 students in both high schools. This is a unique approach by having youth as leaders in violence prevention.

The programme’s topics included learning about the Rights of the Child, emotional maltreatment, neglect, understanding discipline, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, cyber exploitation and how to intervene. The aim of the programme is that through understanding, adults and youth are better able to support themselves and others struggling with these situations. The training sessions provide a safe space to ask questions and get answers based on facts and situations specific to the Caymanian context.

The Peer Educators, that received specific instruction and training on how to talk about specific topics, are also being trained on violence, power, gender and sexuality.
On June 1st and June 7th, the newly trained team of Peer Educators and support staff delivered the It’s Not Your Fault programme to 339 Year 8 students from both Government high schools in Grand Cayman.

Programme Manager, At Risk Youth, Ms. Camila Ferreira was very happy with the response to the pilot and said, “Research suggests that people are more receptive to receiving information, and as a result change their attitudes and behaviours, if they believe the messenger is similar to them and faces the same concerns and pressures. For this reason, we chose to pilot a programme that uses the Peer Educator methodology, so that our own students could be armed with and disseminate this incredibly important information regarding child abuse and violence (information and prevention) as well as resources for getting help. The task was not an easy one, it required a lot of work, but our students stepped up to the plate and did a fantastic job!”

Respected National Training Manager of the Canadian Red Cross Ms. Lisa Evanoff was very impressed with the students she worked with. She stated, “The John Gray and Clifton Hunter High School students were incredible to work with. They were respectful, participatory and engaged throughout the two day training. They were thoughtful and insightful in their responses around violence and prevention. They showed incredible concern about the ways children can be hurt and demonstrated passion to educate and create safe environments.”

Help for Children only provides grants for proven methods that have shown efficacy in the prevention and treatment of child abuse. The Ministry of Education is very appreciative of the financial support received from this foundation as child protection is a priority of the Ministry and Department of Education Services. Youth serving as positive influences and leaders in violence prevention will be a key factor in this programme’s efficacy and the feedback received so far has been positive.

The Peer Educators and support staff will continue to educate Year 8 high school students throughout the month of June. Parents are encouraged to have conversations with their children to help them process the lessons received. The most successful approach is always a collaborative one, and a strong team of caring parents, trained support staff and knowledgeable youth can be impactful. The Ministry of Education is truly thankful to all the Peer Educators, Support Staff and the staff from the Ministry for organising this worthwhile pilot programme.

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