Fun children’s songs teach serious lessons
Natural disasters are known to displace families and separate children from their caregivers, which places them at risk of exploitation and abuse.
Ten-year-old Puspita Sari is singing along with her friends as they sit on the floor in one of UNICEF’s child-friendly spaces. The catchy tune carries a serious message – about which parts of her body only she may touch, what to do if someone hurts her and how to tell her parents or an adult if that happens.
Before singing, the children had played a card game that involved matching up pictures of “good touch” and “bad touch”; and “good situation” and “bad situation”. Lessons like these in awareness and self-protection are vital to children in a country that is prone to natural disasters, as young people like Puspita are most vulnerable when separated from their families in times of crises.
Puspita survived a series of earthquakes on Indonesia’s Lombok Island that left more than 500 people dead and 680 000 people adversely affected – including 204 000 children.
During the days after the earthquakes, Puspita’s mother often left home to look for news of other family members. The young girl had stayed alone – until UNICEF’s child-friendly space was set up and she could play with other children in a supervised environment.
Establishing child-friendly spaces where young people can enjoy educational activities and receive psychosocial support is a key aspect of UNICEF’s work in child protection during emergencies. Under the watchful eye of trained staff members, children like Puspita are not only kept out of harm’s way, but they also learn how to keep themselves safe.
Can you imagine what it must be like to survive a disaster – only to have your safety or life threatened by an abusive family member or partner? No woman or child should ever have to face that. If you agree, please help UNICEF to protect women and children by making a donation.
As part of disaster preparedness measures, UNICEF also supports the essential training and emergency response activities of government partners at district, provincial and national levels in coordinating, monitoring and evaluating the situation on the ground. This helps to ensure that activities in the field meet specific standards – especially the minimum standards for child protection in humanitarian settings.
This critical work also includes ensuring that all front line workers are trained in the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation – including how to report to the right authorities if their colleagues engage in sexual abuse themselves.
In addition to extensive child protection efforts during emergencies, UNICEF ensures that the prevention of sexual abuse and gender-based violence also receive attention from government authorities and civil society partners. Children and women are particularly vulnerable to these harms during times of stressful social upheaval.
Whether it’s anti-bullying, positive discipline, preventing sexual abuse and violence or setting up child-friendly spaces in emergencies, UNICEF’s work in child protection needs your support.
To passers-by, the sound of children singing in UNICEF’s child-friendly spaces signals that these are safe places, happy places – a much-needed respite from the distress that earthquakes wreak in the hearts and lives of those affected by them. And they are – but while the songs and games keep children positively occupied, they also instil invaluable learning.
Puspita’s comments attest to this: “I like the song. I will tell my Mum if anything happens to me. I shouldn’t feel ashamed.”
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