Colombia: Protecting Early Childhood from Violence
In the three years including 2010 to 2012 the macro project, “Protecting Early Childhood from Violence¨ (Protegiendo la Primero Infancia de la Violencia or PPIV) was implemented as a pilot project to increase awareness, promote education and foster change in regards to violence against children in the particularly vulnerable sectors of the Comunas (impoverished communities) numbered Comuna #13 and Comuna #8 in Medellin Colombia. The program was implemented through the efforts of 3 major players along with 17 other organizations or entities. These 3 main players were the Institute for Children’s Rights and Development (IRCD) based in the University of Victoria in Canada, the International Center for Education and Human Development (CINDE) based in Sabaneta, Colombia and the International Child Developent Program (ICDP) in Norway.
The children of Comunas # 13 and #8 are profoundly affected by the multiple incidences of social violence and armed conflict. The strategies of PPIV are directed here to strengthen the protective system for children by implementing protective mechanisms and by stimulating new and existing institutions in the community. PPIV involves training of participants at the family, community and school levels, in child care centers and at the government level through coordination with child protection professionals.
PPIV strengthens the family and community responses through their active participation and provides increased monitoring and evaluation of children´s constitutionally enshrined rights, as in the Childhood and Adolescent Code. The program contributes to the national protective infrastructure, in both public and private institutions, acting to implement public policy specifically aimed at childhood protection in Colombia.
The project also presented an opportunity to take advantage of and participate in efforts aimed at producing a Manual of Developmental Indicators according to General Comment # 7 of the Committee of Childhood Rights of the Convention on Childhood Rights (Convencion sobre los Derechos de la Niñez). In this same way it contributes to the aims of General Comment #13 (Article 19 “Protection of Childhood from All Forms of Violence”)
In its metodology, the project involves investigative research, development of educational materials, identification and training of local actors, technical assistance, implementation of public policy and development of communication systems along with monitoring and evaluation.
PPIV is a prompt response to strengthen local competencies, to design participative programs, to foment concrete actions and to generate and use indicators that make possible the roles of citizen oversight. These oversight roles and information processes are necessary in order to transform local conditions and protective systems and to strengthen information channels which link these results, research, and information to national and international levels, thus creating suggestions and recommendations for public policy in various local areas. This process functions incidentally to create advocacy for national change.
Since the pilot project began in Medellin in Comuna #13, (sector #13) in July, 2010 in alliance with the local municipal program, ¨Buen Comienzo¨ (Headstart) and San Buenaventura University it has spread to 23 barrios (neighbourhoods) in the above mentioned sector. By prior arrangement with ¨Buen Comienzo¨, a similar process began in Comuna #8 of Medellin, including as partners Vision Mundial Antioquia (World Vision Antioquia) and the Golondrinas Foundation.
The development of the project in Comuna #13 involved a survey of the knowledge and practices for the protection of childhood against violence, (including the participation of 44 children, 38 youth coordinators/promoters/multipliers, 23 teachers and school directors, 7 community coordinators/promoters, 130 members of family groups, 5 nonprofit organizations and 5 government organizations ) This survey provided information on specific manifestations of violence, risk and protection factors, proposals for training programs and the derivation of possible contextual indicators.
Equally important was the review and consultation with government organizations, of preexisting information systems and the further development of mapping of the local protection system.
A third process was the initiation of training programs for organizers/promoters and families by International Child Development Program (ICDP Norway) resulting in the strengthening of interactions and emotional link with the 450 adultos involved and the children they worked with.
Following from the Comuna #13 pilot was the structured training plan for the project on Rights and Oversights. The experience of Comuna #13 was replicated and conducted by the allied organizations of the ICDP in various communities in the Department of Choco, in the communities of Dindal y Galan (Neiva) and Tebaida (Quindio). In this phase the pilot has worked directly with groups including representatives, organizers/promoters, families, youth, adolescents, educational agents of the Buen Comienzo (headstart) program, community mothers, families in community housing, families of preschool children, educational institutions, government authorities and professional organizers/promoters.
One product of the process was the development and structure of a protection plan against child violence by the participants from the community itself, beginning with the selection of which forms of violence would be prioritized in their location, the identification of the corresponding risk and protection factors and identification of the corresponding indicators.
This led to the seeding of community actions and state proposals to increase protection mechanisms in the community and to follow up with oversight and review of those indicators.
Please find further information about the project here.