QUB: Resource Launched To Support Children In Violence

Academics at Queen's University Belfast have launched a training resource aimed at enhancing responses to violence against children.

Co designed with children and young people, The P4P (Participation for Protection) will help train professionals on children's understandings of violence; barriers and enablers to disclosure; and what child-rights based responses look like from a child's perspective.

Over 350 professionals and trainees across the six countries have been introduced to the resources through training and teaching events.

Development of the resource was informed by the views and experiences of over 1,300 children and young people (aged 8-18 years old) across six EU member states, including Austria; Belgium; Germany; Ireland; Romania; and the UK. The research was carried out through surveys and focus groups.

Children from St Ita's Primary School in Belfast and young people from Include Youth and Newstart Education Centre in Northern Ireland advised on the project, helping to design the survey and identify key messages to inform the training resources.

Key findings from the survey include:

• Children were most likely to say that physical abuse (79%) and sexual abuse (69%) were examples of violence

• Just over one-third (36%) of children thought that neglect was a form of violence/ harm

• When asked what they would do if they experienced violence, under half (48%) said they would tell someone

• Older children were less likely to seek support if experiencing violence - 55% of children, compared to 41% of young people, said they would seek support

• Seven out of ten children thought the best way to get information was to talk to someone personally (72%)

• Only 6% of children felt that websites were the best source of information if experiencing violence.
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Focus groups also revealed that children who had experienced violence were more 'accepting' and may not always recognise abuse because it forms part of their daily life. Children could find it difficult to disclose violence or seek support because they were fearful it would make things worse or disrupt families. Many described negative experiences with professionals who they thought were in a place to protect them.

Some of the children on the advisory group said that it is important for adults to listen to children and thought that their participation in the project was crucial as it was a "chance for kids to teach adults about what life is like as a child". They also commented on the importance of face-to-face support as "children can't talk to a leaflet they need someone to go to and someone who is absorbing of your words".

Children across all of the countries had similar advice for adults in relation to what they were doing wrong and how they could better support them:

• Give children the space to talk at their own pace

• Listen to children and communicate in a respectful manner

• Keep your promises and don't give up searching for workable solutions

• Remember that children are affected by your decisions

• Take action, but only with the involvement of children.

Dr Paula Rodgers, Policy Co-ordinator from Include Youth said: "The approach taken towards these resources puts children and young people first. The voices and opinions of children and young people from here and across Europe shaped the findings of this research. The impact of actually involving these groups directly provides a truly authentic learning tool for all professionals working with children and young people."

Speaking at the launch, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma commented: "This is a ground-breaking piece of work. Not only does it identify the common issues from a variety of countries across Europe but it plots a path to how children can be involved in the most difficult conversations. The project demonstrates that children and young people want to talk about how violence affects them and to be involved in the design of interventions to support them. P4P proves that there is no circumstance that the voice of children and young people do not have a role."


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