Dr, Ayelet Giladi, an educational sociologist, counsellor, and pioneer for the prevention of sexual harassment among young children is the founder and director of the Voice of Child Association (VOCA). VOCA’s “Taking A Stand” programme was developed to address problems of child sexual harassment. Dr. Giladi had the following to say about the need to create a program like the “Taking a Stand” program: “The rise of the #MeToo movement has sparked conversations surrounding the prevalence of sexual harassment at a scale we’ve never seen before”. She adds: “This marks a positive shift towards acknowledging the problem and taking decisive steps to not only alleviate but eradicate it.” She aims to do this with the “Taking a Stand” program.
VOCA’s “Taking A Stand” programme
The “Taking A Stand” is aimed at children between the ages of 5 to 9 and the programme provides school staff and children with specific knowledge about the action for coping with the aftermath of sexual harassment and its prevention. The phenomenon of sexual harassment behaviour begins at an early age. Research conducted by Dr. Ayelet Giladi found that about 20% of children’s games between the ages of 5 to 8 include elements of sexual harassment. For many children, these behaviours have long-term consequences.
Having this in mind, there is a dire need to speak with children about the themes of sexual harassment from an early age. This is necessary to prevent these behaviours from repeating themselves later in life. The “Taking A Stand” programme is brought to life using stuffed animals, which aims at creating a safe environment for children to discuss these issues. Issues include respect, equality, and dignity. Read more about it on the VOCA website.
VOCA’s Working Visit to Morocco
In collaboration with Voice of Child Association (VOCA) and in coordination with Childhood Education International (CEI), Dr Ayelet Giladi has been running the carefully structured eight-week “Taking A Stand” programme which aims at creating a safe environment for children to discuss several issues, namely RESPECT, EQUALITY and DIGNITY to improve their sense of security.
Ed-Links-Morocco has supervised the piloting of the “Taking A Stand” programme in ALJABR Private School during the 2021-2022 school year. The hope is to prove the viability of the project idea in the Moroccan context.
In December 2022 results indicated that the piloted teacher training programme yielded valuable input to teachers, Soukaina Ennayem and Kenza Nejjar, as well as the sampled population of students from grades 3 and 4. It provided enough evidence to believe that the programme can be successfully implemented in other schools both public and private within the Kingdom of Morocco.
During VOCA’S working visit the Take a Stand program was also introduced to other schools in Morocco such was “ AJial AL Atlas” Private School, “Le Mûrier” Private School and “Jassmine” Private School
It was exciting to the teachers who took part in the program and thrived in the process. They engaged mentally, and while implementing the activities, the teachers brought their energy and passion into each play activity.
This is a part of what teacher Soukaina Ennayem had to say about the impact of the programmes: “The program was efficient for primary school students, especially that age when students cannot talk freely. Rarely when we can discuss the topic of sexual harassment with our children. Most people think it is a prohibited subject, but it is not if you do not talk, I do not talk, and others do not talk, who can explain it to our children? Thanks to Taking A Stand program I can see that now my students can express themselves and voice their voices whereas they are not in a secure situation.”
It’s sad to say that many young children believe some of these abusive behaviours are normal or expected. This further emphasises the need for these kinds of programmes. Contact VOCA for more details on the prevention programmes and how they help!