Learning to listen to children

Last year, over 200,000 adults in 14 countries were reached with positive messages about treating children in their care better through Viva’s Good Treatment Campaign – more than double the number of the previous year.

A total of 900 churches and organisations from 22 of Viva’s partner networks worked together to reach people in their communities and across their cities.

Networks used the traditional Campaign techniques of empowering children to give out promise cards, have conversations and collect signatures. Additionally, in order to increase the scale and enhance this work, networks also engaged media, business, local authorities and other larger NGOs in the campaigns to help the messaging spread even further.

In Tanzania, two social welfare officers, one ward councillor and seven local church authority representatives were invited to be part of running the campaign and this ensured that local government authorities were aware of campaign and gave permission to organise a public gathering.

In Hyderabad, India, the District Education Officer heard for the first time about Viva and its work. The network took the opportunity to also talk about future programmes.

Some 75,000 children worldwide were involved in publicly promoting the campaign, with support from adults, with over 2,000 trained in advocacy leadership.

In Bangalore, India 100 young people helped to lead the campaign. They received training on leadership and became representatives in schools and organizations as well as helping other children to take part in the campaign. They each demonstrated and practised leadership.

After the campaign, Peer Ambassadors in Uganda engaged other children who were not able to take part to share what they had learnt. One of the young people said, “Feeling loved and cared for by our parents makes us stronger because of their support. We want our voices to be heard out loud and this is possible only with the support of our parents.

“Our parents need to learn how to listen to us as children and give us a chance to express ourselves. So hopefully this campaign will help bridge some of these gaps.”

The annual Good Treatment Campaign can radically change the mindsets of people in local communities.

The network co-ordinator in Zimbabwe reported that the campaign resulted in improved perception of children, understanding of children’s needs and rights and overall improvement in the treatment of children.

In Uganda the network leaders have seen a lot of change in how parents relate with their children and cases of parents using canes to discipline their children have decreased. They are now adopting the use of alternative discipline.

One mother in Patna, India said: “It was the first time in my life I felt that we are missing many important things which is really needed for our child.”

Pastors in Hyderabad, India said they came to know for the first time about the Child rights and their responsibility for the girl child.

5 ways to treat children well

Viva partner networks are on a different stages of the journey with the Good Treatment Campaign.

For the majority of the churches and ministries in Ranchi, India, it was their first time participating in a campaign of this kind.

Pastors announced about the campaign in their church services and members were asked to pray for the success of the campaign. Feedback from the areas were these campaigns were held showed that the community leaders appreciated the work of their children and were thankful to the network for helping their children to speak for themselves.

In Bolivia, where the campaign has been running annually for over a decade, 14 government organizations were involved in the campaign in which 128,000 licenses were delivered by 32,000 children and teenagers from educational units and the network.

A new addition this year was to issue awards to 145 educational units that promote good treatment. Other campaign activities included three organized talent festivals and more than 10 media outlets broadcasting coverage in the four participating cities.

The Good Treatment Campaign really is a key part of Viva’s year – and it’s encouraging to see how networks are progressing the vision that has come out of Latin America and now spreads across the world.

Anna Barker, Network Development Team Co-ordinator, says, “Everything doubled last year! The number of networks running campaigns, the number of churches and organisations involved in the campaigns, the number of children promoting the campaign and the number of adults spoken to all not only exceeded their totals from the year before, but at least doubled the number.

“This is exciting, and shows that these campaigns are gaining traction, reaching thousands more people with positive messaging on how to treat children well.”