19 October 2022

Albert Town High and SWPBIS still making a positive impact on the school culture

As schools reopened for full face-to-face learning in September, three school leaders at the Albert Town High School in Trelawny shared their experience with a UNICEF-supported Ministry of Education and Youth initiative that has improved student behaviour and school culture overall. The School-Wide Positive Behaviour Intervention and Support (…, What was your lightbulb moment and what are the key takeaways from the training?, Janice Skeen Miller, Vice-Principal: What that (SWPBIS) training did for us, as a school, was that it helped us to become more aware of how to use the positives to change negative behaviour. The school is now looking at what students are doing that is right and using that to help them to realise when they go wrong. We had our core values displayed…, What did you put in place to implement SWPBIS?, Denise Hughes, Guidance Counsellor: We got a team in place and got persons to buy into the programme. We got all persons on board – teachers, staff members, parents, community personnel – so we could get the programme rolling and created a positive environment because it was a bit negative before. We got students to participate and to feel good…, Thumbs Up Cards and vouchers, Denise Hughes: When a student turns up with an item that was found they will receive a Thumbs Up Card. Five Thumbs Up Cards qualify them for a lunch voucher. We highlight these behaviours in devotion that this person feels confident, and it will impact their self-esteem … and the students are recognized in devotion., How hard was it to get the buy-in?, Denise Hughes: It wasn’t very hard at all. Olando Sinclair: The team not only included teachers. There were parents on the team and the business community. We involved a wide cross-section of the community and of course the students. And with all these persons representing the various stakeholders, the buy-in was pretty good., What was it like before?, Olando Sinclair: They (students) were more aggressive towards each other and authority. We had the rules but when we tried to enforce (them) there was aggression and high levels of indiscipline regarding their uniform, damage to school furniture, a lot of fights and graffiti on the walls. There was no respect for the environment and to authority.…, How are you restarting the initiative after the COVID-19 closure?, Olando Sinclair: We have to be adaptable with the programme. What mattered in 2013 and 2014 are not as relevant now as then. That level of aggression is not there but we are seeing some other things creeping up now. One thing we know is that we have some issues relating to the value that is placed on education. There is the get-rich-quick culture…, How is the school combatting this culture?, Olando Sinclair: We are in the process of trying to understand (it). The children … we have to involve them. They have a richer understanding as to what is happening. They have the peer influence. Getting the children involved in it … that would help us to put an effective plan in place and that takes some work and will help us with adaptability.…, How did capacity building sessions help staff and prepare for reopening?, Olando Sinclair: At the school level we did several capacity building sessions where we focused on the psychosocial wellbeing of teachers and to include students and parents as well. We also did some sessions on online pedagogy to ensure that teachers are coping with online and prepare us to return to the face-to-face. Because both teachers and…, What were your school’s CSEC passes like this year?, Janice Skeen-Miller: The CSEC passes this year were fairly good. We have just one subject that we were concerned about: Mathematics was our weak point, so we are working on it., Share one success story?, Janice Skeen-Miller: I’ll share with you about one young lady who continues to be a beacon wherever she goes. She came out of a toxic environment but at school we were able to mold her into a role model: she served as a prefect, then head girl and SWPBIS ambassador., Anything else?, Janice Skeen-Miller: One thing that stands out for us, I don’t walk and see graffiti anywhere. Prior to this, as soon as you paint, they would mark up the walls. We are not seeing that happen anymore., What’s UNICEF doing?, Schools like Albert Town High are leading the way as we create mechanisms to share experiences on institutional approaches that can prevent, reduce, mitigate and respond to violence. All children deserve to feel safe at school and the SWPBIS framework gives school teams guidelines to do just that within each of their own unique contexts. UNICEF…
14 July 2022

Youth looking back at violence in childhood

Recently we met some bright young people whose eyes were glowing with the firm belief that together we can end violence against children. “We look forward to the revolutionary era where children are to be seen and also to be heard,” says Theo, one of the youth participants at the National Policy Dialogue on Ending Violence Against Children,…, Andrew Johnson, 26, Member of Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica, What type of discipline do you think helped you as a child? I have experienced corporal punishment as a child. I don’t think it helped me to change into the person I am now. What really helped me is the social intervention programmes. Whenever I feel loved, whenever I feel like this person is connected to me, I respect the person and I was more…, Theo KnightTomlinson, 18, Member of CPFSA Children’s Advisory Panel, "Spare the rod and spoil the child" From a biblical standpoint, the Lord didn’t physically beat anyone. He spoke to them repeatedly and repeatedly. He tries to correct them a number of times until they open up their mind to take the knowledge given from Him. He knows the person will change, so you don’t spare the rod and spoil the child. Also, if…, Andre Witter, Co-Founder/Executive Director for Jamaica Deaf Youth Advocacy, Impacting all five senses We must remember that corporal punishment does not simply include physical and verbal abuse. Punishment is also associated with the five senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. Children learn to fear when they watch their parents or adults take up a stick, belt, or whatever, and they interpret the circumstances…, What's UNICEF doing?, UNICEF continues to support the implementation of Jamaica’s National Plan of Action for an Integrated response to Children and Violence (NPACV). Specifically, UNICEF assisted in establishing the Inter Sectoral Committee on Children and Violence and its four Technical Working Groups and supported the development of (i) the NPACV’s Monitoring and…
04 May 2022

Papine High rises up against gender-based violence

“Ever since I’ve left primary school I’ve been trying to work on my anger. I’m still working on it.”, – Adriel Fraser, aged 14, Adriel is a student of Papine High School in St Andrew, which is surrounded by several community experiencing high rates of violent crime. Recently a 15-year-old student on his way to the school was murdered for his cell phone. However, a just concluded intervention at Papine High focusing on addressing the roots of gender-based violence has given…, Participants show changed attitudes, Implemented by the non-government organization RISE Life Management Services and supported by UNICEF under the global European Union-United Nations  Spotlight Initiative  to address gender-based family violence, the one-year programme which ended in January has delivered positive results despite being restricted to online delivery due to COVID-19…, Empowering males and females, “I believe children live what they learn and I believe everything goes back to the homes, the single parent, the no-dad issue, the single mom who cannot make ends meet and the mom becomes frustrated and takes it out on the child and then the child in turn becomes a product of his environment…..but if we start a place where each one help one then…, Opening up new conversations, Referencing the positive impact on teacher and parents, Barnes goes on to explain, “This programme is special because it brings across new information and provides a certain reinforcement. Teachers have more tools and understand the problems with using coercive methodology.” For parents, “Certain old methods they have had to throw out the window,…, Changing parenting approaches, “We have started to have open discussions about things like about sexual abuse and you know, sometimes GBV. I talk to my daughter about adults approaching her and how she should react. These sessions made me want to understand more, and even when they throw out the question and nobody answer, I had to say something.” Importantly, all the…, What is UNICEF doing?, While the RISE against Gender-based Violence School Based Intervention has come to an end under Phase I of Spotlight, schools are encouraged to develop their own interventions to prevent GBV. This and other Spotlight Initiative activities in schools are strongly linked with the UNICEF-Ministry of Education and Youth School-wide Positive Behaviour…
20 January 2022

I’m a teen mom dreaming big for me and my baby

Tajaun and his mother benefitted from a UNICEF-supported parenting programme operated by the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, which is designed to  help adolescent mothers feel more empowered and confident  about themselves and the care, protection and support they give to their children. By investing in adolescent parents today, this…, Positive parenting practices, When he is old enough, I will talk to Tajaun about wrong and right. I wouldn’t use corporal punishment as I think that’s a hard way for them to learn. If I beat my child, he would want to go elsewhere and have the thought of doing the same thing to others, so for me it’s better to talk to him. As mother and son, we have not reached that stage yet…, Being treated with respect, Here I get treated with respect. The Women’s Centre programme teaches us about how to take care of the baby and how to become more positive parents who can talk to our children instead of using violence. I want to encourage other young ladies to come here because they might also be thinking that their life is over, and I want to tell them they can…, What is UNICEF doing?, All parents navigate challenges as their children grow and develop. While many of these challenges are the same for adolescent parents and older parents, teenage parents will have to navigate additional challenges, such as finishing school while looking after a baby, and possibly feeling judged for being a teenage parent or overwhelmed by the…
15 September 2021

“COVID-19 mash up everything” – my life without school

[SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH VIDEO] The only thing I can do now is just babysit my sister since I’m not going to school. I don’t have anything else to do. I prefer to babysit her then go out on the road and be around bad company. She’s teaching me a lot. She’s smart – anything people say she’ll understand and tell you. She might not tell you clearly, but…, COVID-19 compounds impact of violence on learning, When violence is happening in the community it’s hard for you to study and focus because you’ll be sitting out by the door with your book recapping certain things and you hear a lot of shots start to fire, and that just replays in your brain. I went to online classes for about two weeks. I didn’t have a device or anything to do the online classes…, School as a safe place has been taken away, School is something that can occupy your time. School is a safe place to be in the daytime; for instance, police can’t catch you on the road and ask you how you aren’t in school, and you don’t mix up in certain things. My message to others is that if you get a chance to go back to school, just go to school and do your schoolwork. If you can have…, What's UNICEF doing?, Since the closure of schools in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Jamaica, approximately 120,000 children, as reported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI), have been disengaged from learning. Schools have had little or no regular contact with these students. These children who have been lost to learning represent…
21 July 2021

I help parents prevent family violence

At age 12, I learned a lesson about violence when I became a babysitter in my extended family. Growing up, I had already learned that the way to discipline was to beat, and so with my brothers, sister, and cousins, that was what I did. But then one day one of my brothers fought back and said, “Wait, when we get older, we are going to kill you.”…, The realities of inter-generational violence, With the Spotlight Initiative  I am happy to be on a pathway to recruit families and I am not afraid to go into any community to try and help them become better mothers and fathers, and that includes me as well. We hope for families to recognize that there are other ways to correct their children, to mentor and to nurture children. Really it is…, Demonstrating non-violent approaches, I have a male student now, and I have seen it more than once, where a girl is verbally abusive, and his response is to use physical abuse. The male student will claim that he was not hurting her, and so I must explain to him that physical approach is wrong. Likewise, I also must explain to the female student that her language is verbal abuse. In…, Children must be allowed to speak up, Children are not only receivers in the communication process. They must be listened to and given answers in a manner that they are able to understand properly. I no longer hold the view that they must be seen and not heard. They have a voice too! I must say that the Spotlight Initiative has made me more aware of the impacts of family and gender-…, About the Spotlight Initiative, Under the Spotlight Initiative – global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls – Children First through UNICEF, is training 50 community facilitators, like Ricardo, to promote positive parenting. Facilitators focus on preventing family violence and…