The burden sexual violence brings to society is played out in our children’s lives which quickly becomes every parent’s worst nightmare when we witness a seemingly happy and healthy child become withdrawn, succumb to eating disorders, poor body image, self-injury, substance abuse, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
To ensure we protect and nurture our young children so they develop into active, happy and engaged adults it is essential we invest in the intervention and prevention of sexual harassment, sexual bullying and sexual abuse as early as possible in a young child’s life.
The cost and breadth of professional effort required to return a traumatised child back to health and mental and emotional equilibrium far outweighs the relatively small investment into preventative measures available today which address and prevent the development of the root behavioural issues and indicators of sexual harassment and abuse in young children.
Meeting the gap between child rights and a burgeoning #Metoo Movement, Dr Ayelet Giladi offers her decade long research into prevention tools to empower children where it counts most, in their self-protection, awareness and age-appropriate tools in its prevention.
Association which Gives Children a Voice
Heading up the global organization Voice of the Child Association #VOCA, founder and director Dr Ayelet Giladi, is a consulting sociology educator intent on sharing her research findings and prevention tools with any many countries, communities, schools and educational facilitators as possible.
“My educational prevention programs start with children as young as 5 years of age. This is because children from age 5 and up have adequate cognitive ability to begin to understand and verbalise about their body and understand what is inherently their Child Rights for protection to lead a contented and safe childhood into adulthood, so they can become active, balanced and involved members of society.”
Through three age-appropriate educational modules for programs at schools across the global, Dr Giladi supports children, teachers, principals and parents on identifying, coping and accessing the tools to prevent sexual harassment in children; a precursor to sexual violence, sexual abuse and rape.
Educating in the prevention of sexual abuse of children
“If we don’t educate our children with appropriate training in self-actualisation through developing the individual child’s personal dignity, and attitudes to respect and equality we will continue to see the high toll exacted on the victims of sexual harassment. The impact of sexual harassment and sexual violence has lasting and costly effects in physical, psychological, social, and economic well-being of its survivors.
“My programs for children and adolescents; and workshops for teachers and parents, address how to bridge this gap in knowledge and deliver more empowered children thereby reducing levels of violence in the greater social environment.
No Children’s Play : Your Questions Answered
I invite all concerned parent, teacher or global citizen to contact me should they have any questions further to my research or on reading my book; both which identify and clarifies what sexual harassment looks like among children who might appear to be playing innocently on the playground – that is until a specific boundary is crossed. Usually, children will seek out areas where there is no adult supervision when it comes to sexual harassment and this can often lead to dire consequences between a child perpetrator or group and a child victim.”
World Collaboration and School Interventions
Dr Giladi says she works largely with foundations and donor agencies in financing interventions in schools across all sectors of society’s social and economic groups.
“I have a lot of work to do in Africa, this is where I see my greatest need at present, however I continue to role out my schools’ programs across Israel, as well as present at global academic conferences and parent educational seminars. My Voice of the Child Association website is a good access point to learn about my research and the programs I bring in the prevention of sexual harassment in children.
“One moment I might be speaking to a hall full of concerned private school parents and the next I am negotiating pilot programs in disadvantaged communities where we are addressing very high levels of violence in a school.
“My work spans hands-on training in refugee camps to consultative work with University professors. Sexual abuse is pervasive from birth to old age across every nation and cultural and social strata of society. There is much work to be done in this field.”
Education in the Prevention of Sexual Violence
“What we need more of is communication and education in the prevention of sexual violence. We do this by sharing with children thfr respect, dignity, and gender equality and by empowering young children a voice in their own self-protection.
“But first we need to see more investment in the prevention of abuse rather than the massive retroactive costs we are experiencing that is required for healing these traumas, many of which will never truly go away, it will be something the individual carries with them forever whether it continues to effect their memories, relationships with others or personal ideas of who they are and their own self-esteem in their personal role in modern society.
“Much of my work is spent educating partners and decision makers about the importance of investing in the prevention of sexual violence but my vision is to empower educators themselves in sharing my research and tools for prevention so they may ingrain these modules in their careers and everyday facilitation and educational interactions for the future.
“Sexual harassment, sexual bullying and sexual abuse is a numbers game and we need to swing the pendulum back from reactivity to abuse, to solid prevention initiatives if we want to create safer and more connected communities.
Costs and Prevention Decision-making
“The cost of sexual abuse can be a lifelong sentence for its victims. The cost of prevention a mere drop in the ocean when compared.
“The National Sexual Violence Resource Center NSVRC has put an actual dollar figure on the cost of rape. According to them, for every rape prevented, more than $122,000 in lifetime costs are averted. When we invest in prevention, we are ultimately saving money and, more importantly, improving health and lives of not just the individual but the environment and greater society as a whole.”
My programs have been and continue to roll out in schools across Israel with the support of the Department of Education which supports schools in communities to make the best decisions about allocating resources to programs that work to educate and empower children; programs that are effective and cost-efficient.
“Through my research on sexual harassment in children, I particularly focus on early childhood development at kindergarten and junior primary level as this is the most cost-effective type of age intervention.
“When you empower a child from the very beginning with tools for prevention and knowledge about their bodies and their rights within a community, the costs of preventing rape become negligible when compared to the cost of the dire consequences that we know rape enacts on a person.
“From my perspective, I don’t see prevention as a cost but rather as an investment in a child’s overall well-being and self-awareness. One essential for a child’s full development and growth.
Supporting Parents to Empower their Children
“Never has the phenomena of sexual harassment, abuse, sexual bullying and violence been more relevant than in today’s modern societies where we are seeing an increase in the number of single-parent families with often the mother, paid less than a man, being overwhelmed by just trying to survive material insecurity, let alone adequate parenting. The child often doesn’t receive vital input required for self-knowledge and personal protection about their bodies and may become vulnerable to exploitation and submissive behaviours to the detriment of their own social well-being in the family and the workplace.
Workplace Intimidation and Sexual Harassment
“On the other hand, we see adult women and mothers without a voice themselves; often enduring long hours and abusive employment standards, so when sexual harassment in the workplace occurs, it leads to keeping quiet and enduring intimidation and repression as a means to survival of self and family.
“We know that sexual abuse is enacted by perpetrators looking for power gains and it always creates a victim through an experience of intimidation. All too often, this results in victims blaming themselves, doubting their own self-worth, living with high levels of stress, constant fear, and degradation within hostile environments.
“Sexual violence creates a long list of physical and mental health consequences, ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to physical self-harm. While victims are left feeling traumatised, afraid, avoidant and shamed, the perpetrators feel empowered and victorious and will continue to enact the same behaviours throughout their lifetime, only getting stronger as they go. There is no putting a cost on that type of enduring violence on our society.”