Violence against children an issue: S.V.S.G.

Violence against children remains one of the major issues in Samoa and represents 40 per cent of cases lodged with the Samoa Victim Support Group in last five years.

The non-government organisation revealed that some of the cases involved children who have experienced violent forms of discipline in their own homes.

For 15 years the S.V.S.G. has provided a refuge for victims, both young and old, of sexual crimes and abuse. 

Since its establishment, they have been a beacon of hope to hundreds of women and children who would otherwise have nowhere else to turn to for help.

According to S.V.S.G. statistics last year showed a total of 187 cases of domestic violence were processed by the refuge centre with 57 cases of child abuse. However, a total of 230 cases of child abuse have been dealt with by the group between 2016 to 2020. 

“This is perpetuated by parents and caregivers thinking that physical punishment is necessary to raise or discipline their children,” an S.V.S.G. statement reads. 

The alarming figures concerning the children in Samoa compelled the S.V.S.G. to propose a holistic community preventive and child protection programme to United U.N.I.C.E.F. for support. 

The U.N.I.C.E.F. Pacific and S.V.S.G. have been collaborating in the area of child protection in Samoa since 2015. 

“A collaboration that is vital in ensuring quality services for children in need of care and protection,” according to S.V.S.G. 

The S.V.S.G. president, Siliniu Lina Chang thanked the U.N.I.C.E.F. Pacific team in Suva, Fiji as well as their local counterpart for supporting the refuge centre in taking ownership of its primary prevention programme in the community.

The programme is two-fold with the first part targeting parents and caregivers to have increased knowledge and skills to eliminate harmful practices; and secondly, teaching adolescents life skills to better protect themselves from violence and abuse.

The group had developed learning modules for parents and caregivers on ‘Positive Discipline Parenting’ as well as ‘Life Skills for Adolescents’ based on resources from the U.N.I.C.E.F. Creating Connections and Save the Children, contextualized to fit the Samoan context.

Previously the S.V.S.G. had started work with one out of the seven focused communities selected for this programme (six in Upolu and one in Savaii).  

At the Assembly of God Church in Fasitoo-uta, parents and adolescents were introduced to their respective learning programme over the next two years.

Furthermore, accountability measures have been put in place to assess any changes in knowledge, attitude & behavior, and practice for the parents with their positive disciplining skills; and for the adolescents towards learning life skills to better protect them from violence and abuse.

The S.V.S.G. village representatives at Fasitoo-uta have been tasked with mobilising the most suitable parents and adolescents to benefit from this programme.

The group also acknowledged Aeimanū Tinetali Talavave, Leaupepe Amosa, Lolotauama Eseta and Akenese Matavao for their important role that they continued to play in achieving objectives of the relevant S.V.S.G. programmes at Fasitoo-uta.

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