Everything starts at home. That’s because the family is where the behavior of children and all family members are shaped.
It is where Christian and cultural values are taught and nurtured. This is the core recommendation in the ‘draft’ of the Samoa Family Safety Study 2017 regarding efforts to reduce domestic violence in Samoa.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development (M.W.C.S.D) the study aims to assess the present state of domestic and gender-based violence in Samoa and the extent of the impact of current interventions.
The study recommends the Village councils to introduce curfew for evening devotion. It also calls on Village councils to introduce tough penalties on perpetrators of family violence and to reintroduce Sunday laws in order for all family members to attend church services.
The study goes on to encourage village church ministers to conduct regular visits with families especially those in marginal farming lands as well as the strengthening of a’oga faifeau.
The Family Safety Study says M.W.C.S.D should convince village councils and church ministers through advocacy work to promote family safety issues.
It also calls for M.W.C.S.D to initiate the process to amend the Village Fno Act 1990 in order to give village councils formal authority to intervene in matters of family violence.
This will give village councils the legal backing to intervene appropriately to resolve family violence incidents in the villages.
“The village or the community is the next platform of exposure and socialization for both children and adults."
“The relationship between the village members and authority is well understood and respected."
“It is one of the main factor behind the survey results showing an overwhelming preference for village councils to intervene in matters of family violence."
“At the centre of this recommendation is the strong need for village councils to promptly intervene through its bylaws and advocacy role to settle matters of family violence in collaboration with village church ministers.”
Another recommendation is the introduction of a family safety curriculum to primary and secondary schools.
“Schools are the next important environment for teaching and learning new knowledge to promote family safety."
“It is important to teach the upcoming younger generation on the essence of family safety before they reach adulthood. That said, teachers should also behave accordingly in the classroom.”
The study calls for Ministry of Education and M.W.C.S.D and other stakeholders to design and introduce a curriculum on family safety at the primary and secondary school levels.
“For the family safety program to include human rights perspective, Christian perspective and cultural perspective.” Also for the National University of Samoa’s Faculty of Education to introduce a program on teaching family safety at the primary and secondary levels.”
The solutions are grounded on the critical assumption that when people are aware of the subject matter, they would eventually change their behavior.
“Implementing actors currently running outreach programs should be supported to continue to do so.”
The study calls for particular N.G.Os running awareness programs should look at issues of timing; accessibility; target groups and relevance of topics.
“From the study the main factors that caused family violence are bad behavior (both victim and perpetrator); how to raise children; and family budgeting."
“The age group that is most vulnerable to family violence is between 20-49. This data should be able to inform the work of NGOs and other stakeholder responsible for public awareness programmes.”
It is also recommended for M.W.C.S.D to remind government about the importance of allocating funds to combat family violence considering its substantial costs and prevalence in society.
The study discovers similar solutions used to fight family violence in other countries.
“These include tough penalties for perpetrators; public awareness and counseling programs; and other forms of educational training."
“The main practice that stands out of the review is the establishment of research centers to conduct researches on issues of family violence systematically."
“Accordingly, human behavior is a very complex concept and thus deserves constant researching in order to inform good decision-making."
This is the second major study on family violence in the country.
“Samoa could also follow such practice. After all, the structural setting does exist for such purpose. There is the Division of Policy and Planning at MWCSD, and there is the National University of Samoa. Both places could be upgraded to include research on family safety.”
Also there three main areas that need further research in order to promote good practice in family safety, the preliminary view on the costs of family violence focusing on Police service; Health service and Education service only.
Costs both direct and indirect that are shouldered by the government; the victim and relatives; and the business community as a result of family violence.
“A national study on this aspect of family violence would give a clear picture of the costs of family violence on the whole society.” Another challenge is the availability of relevant data for the analysis is a major problem."
“To initiate a research on this area by identifying the data required, the authority responsible for collection, the funding side of data collection and the main keeper of data would be a useful research to undertake.”