Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Radio programme by and for children provides relief in Banda Aceh

A protective environment

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© UNICEF Indonesia/2008
Banda Aceh youth radio show host Putri Saleh presents her programme, which is produced by children, for children.

By Steve Nettleton

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, 29 December 2008 – Putri Saleh hosts a radio programme tailored just for children, tackling issues ranging from school problems to child abuse.

The teenaged host interrupts an Indonesian pop song and explains that listeners are now going to hear a discussion about child trafficking. She and a guest then spend 10 minutes talking about what should be done to stop the problem, particularly in Aceh, where children could be especially vulnerable after the tsunami.

Putri’s show is the broadcasting component of a special media programme that also includes a magazine, 'Anak Aceh', written and edited by and for young people. Together, the radio programme and magazine provide a new forum for children in a region still recovering from the tsunami, as well as from a decades-long conflict. 

“I am a child, too,” says Putri. “I need support from adults and also support from my peers. We need to help our friends who have been victims of violence, the conflict or child trafficking. Formal lessons are not useful, because these children don’t need theories about how to protect themselves. They need support from adults to gain their courage back.”

Long-lasting protection

UNICEF has been working to build a long-lasting protective environment for children and women in Aceh. It is transforming 19 children’s centres built in the wake of the tsunami into social welfare centres to care for thousands of vulnerable children, including thousands of children who have been reunited with families.

UNICEF has also helped revise provincial law to address issues of abuse, exploitation and trafficking. As a result, Aceh now has one of the most advanced legal protection systems for children in all of Indonesia.

Special courtrooms for children have been set up in three districts, while 22 police stations across Aceh have established children’s desks to handle cases involving young people.

Trained to work with young people

Ibu Elfiana was among the first group of police officers trained to deal specifically with children. Now she is the chief of a subdistrict police station in Banda Aceh, the only woman in the province to hold such a position. She says authorities are now much better equipped to handle children who come in contact with the law.

“The training and cooperation with UNICEF have changed our way of thinking and our perception of children,” Ms. Elfiana says. “It’s made us more sensitive when dealing with children as perpetrators, and we take more care of children who are victims. But we still need to build better awareness in the community that children should not be treated the same as adults.”

The challenge to protect children continues, four years after the tsunami.


 

 

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UNICEF correspondent Steve Nettleton reports on a radio programme by and for children in Banda Aceh.
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