Psychosocial Assistance & Assertive Training for Children Victims of Sexual Violence

Sahabat Kapas and members of Women Empowerment and Child Protection Institution from Wonogiri Regency arrived at 09.30 WIB. That day (5/11), we visited one of the primary schools in Wonogiri District to provide psychosocial assistance and assertive training for children victims of sexual violence. In accordance with the information we obtained from Women Empowerment and Child Protection Institution of Wonogiri, the children we will meet had been sexually violent by their own sports teacher. The children who will take part in the assistance with us that day were 22 girls from two different schools.

Arriving at the location, we were welcomed by teachers from the school representative. According to one teacher, we were informed that the school felt it was quite difficult when it had to provide psycho-social assistance for children. The teachers also feel that they do not have many alternative activities and adequate infrastructure to divert children’s attention from the upsetting events that befall them. One teacher revealed that the school did not have sufficient books. Therefore, schools are very grateful if there are parties who can provide reading books as a means of positive transfer of children from the events that befall them.

School parties hopes that the assistance and assertive training activities carried out by Institution of Women Empowerment and Child Protection with Sahabat Kapas might slightly reduce the psycho-social burden borne by children. They also want that in the future there will be specific guidelines for schools parties to handle if there are any violence cases happen in school. With these guidelines, teachers can follow up psycho-social mentoring programs independently and can provide the special attention what children need.

Dare to Say “NO”

The children accompanied by around four teachers welcomed us to the school mosque. They looked little bit ashamed. After a brief opening from representatives of Women Empowerment and Child Protection Institute of Wonogiri, Ms. Rodhiyati, the event continued with an introduction and a brief presentation of the day’s activities. The children listened with an orderly explanation given and seemed enthusiastic to take part in the activity.

To build a cheerful atmosphere, we started the activity by inviting the children to sing and demonstrate “Finger Song”. After we feel that children can accept our presence, our activities continue with role play. We divide the children into groups, each group consists of 5-6 children who will be accompanied by one Sahabat Kapas volunteer. We deliberately make group activities to trained inter-group cooperation and build closeness to each other.

Each group has its own names, we decided to name the group with the Blue Boats, Purple Boats, Green Boats, and Red Boats. Each boat will get an assignment to play a role with a different theme. The Blue Boat got the theme of cheating; Green boat have the theme of extortion in the school hood; Purple Boat play a role with the theme of lighting in the form of food at school; and the Red Boat played a role themed cheating. All groups are given several times to discuss the role to be played. Each group will get about 10 minutes to perform their planned role-play.

This role-playing activity is one of the medias to train children’s assertiveness. With this assertive training, children are expected to have the ability to communicate what they want, feel, and think about of others but still maintain and respect the rights and feelings of others. By playing roles, children are placed in a condition where they have to be brave enough to communicate their wishes and dare to say NO to things they don’t want. Especially, children must dare to refuse treatment or things that make them feel uncomfortable.

From the role played by Blue Boat, our children trained to dare to refuse cheating and choose honest actions. Children realized that cheating is not good. Therefore, they must dare to reject the bad deeds. Instead, they must get used to being honest. We hope that this attitude of bravery against bad actions is not only used in cheating situations, but in other situations that require the courage of children to refuse. Like the role played by the Blue Boat, the Red Boat group also played a role that requires children to be honest. In addition, children could learn how to forgive each other for friends who cheat.

On the other hand, the role played by the Green Boat group and the Purple Boat focused on the courage to fight abuse – which might be happen at school. Bullying could make children feel inferior and depressed. Therefore, children must avoid acts of abuse. On the other hand, when they become objects of abuse, they must be brave to fight. Children need to be taught to dare to say “No!” When a bullies asked them to do something they do not want to. Children need to be told that bullies tend to choose children who do not want to defend themselves. If children are used to doing what a bullies says, they might be persecuted constantly.

Loving Yourself

After the role-play completed and exploring the moral message of the role, we invited children to draw their own figures on a piece of paper. This activity is an art therapy, using creative techniques such as drawing, painting, or coloring, to help children express themselves artistically and examine psychological and emotional conditions in their art. We asked children to draw as they wish, and do not afraid of their imperfect result. They were freely express their self-image on paper. We do this activity so that children can get to know and love themselves more.

Art therapy by drawing is truly a form of nonverbal communication. For children who may not be able to articulate thoughts, emotions, perceptions with verbal, drawing is the best way to communicate their feelings. For children who have abuse experience, drawing is one of to “say without speaking”; when they could not or afraid enough to talk about certain events or feelings.

Besides drawing, we also ask children to tell about themselves to their own groups. Between us, we ask questions about what subjects we like most, skills they have, or hobbies they usually do. This is to build children’s confidence in their potential and foster a perception that they can be accepted by the environment with their potential. Children need to be trained to recognize themselves so that they can grow confidently.

We ended the series of activities that day by dancing together with the Javanese version of “Baby Shark” (“Culoboyo”) which was hosted by all Sahabat Kapas volunteers. Around 12:40 p.m., all activities were completed and closed by Ms. Rodhiyati. With enthusiasm, children claimed they were happy with these activities and wanted play again with the volunteers later on.

Not only children who feel happy that day, we as volunteers are also very happy to be able to make them cheerful and laugh out loud. We also feel happy that they were able to accept our presence with pleasure. We hope what we do in that day can help to reduce their sadness, help them look at the future more confidently.

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