Fighting Corporal Punishment in Timor-Leste

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Posted on 2/25/2016
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In Timor-Leste’s education system, corporal punishment is pervasive. A 2014 government survey found that 67 percent of children in Timor-Leste have suffered physical punishment at school. In response to this survey, ChildFund Timor-Leste has implemented Children Against Violence: An Anti-Corporal Punishment Campaign. The project aims to build children’s capacity and confidence to speak out against corporal punishment and other child protection risks.

To date, the project has trained and mobilized 45 child advocates to raise community awareness of the detrimental effects of corporal punishment. The child advocates formed the Children Against Violence (CAV) group, and ChildFund Timor-Leste trained the group in their rights and responsibilities, key tenets of child protection, negative consequences of corporal punishment and healthy alternatives. The CAV groups perform 10-minute-long dramas that depict children’s experiences with corporal punishment and other forms of violence in their homes, schools and communities. CAV groups perform these dramas for both schools and communities, and as of January 2016, 1110 children and 368 parents had seen the dramas.

In coordination with the CAV’s dramas, ChildFund Timor-Leste works with parents and communities and through social media to change the social norms that view corporal punishment as an appropriate form of discipline. ChildFund Timor-Leste has trained 80 parents on positive discipline and the harmful effects that corporal punishment can have on a child’s growth and development. In June, ChildFund Timor-Leste cohosted a two-day event, “Say No to Violence and Discrimination Against Children!” with the Timor-Leste Child Rights Commission. The event included a public-speaking competition and dramatic and visual installations calling for the end of violence against children. The Minister of Education, the Vice President of National Parliament, the Commissioner of Child Rights and the Deputy of Human Rights attended the event, along with 10 other national- and district-level officials. Simultaneously, the Children Against Violence: An Anti-Corporal Punishment Campaign launched an anti-corporal punishment Facebook campaign. Through this platform, 187 members engage in an ongoing discussion on corporal punishment.

ChildFund Timor-Leste’s Anti-Corporal Punishment Campaign has built a strong relationship with the national government’s child protection network and the National Commission for Child’s Rights within the Ministry of Justice. A CAV project staff member sits on the child protection network and provides updates on the project and ideas about how to scale interventions to curb corporal punishment nationwide.