Child Protection Pilot Project on
Trans-cultural Prevention of Violence
and Promotion of Health
July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015
Violence against girls and boys is still very widespread. We interpret the term “violence against children” to mean psychological, physical, and sexual violence. The prevention of violence requires a sustained and coordinated effort at global and local levels.
At the global level, Marta Santos Pais, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative on violence against children, has been lobbying for improvements in child protection and emphasizing the prevention of violence as a responsibility of governments since September 2009.
Our pilot project in Vienna represents a national and a local effort. In accordance with our wide interpretation of the term “violence against children”, we take a broad approach to attacking the problem. Our team consists of expert psychologists, social workers, and educators that focus on kindergarten and social pedagogy. We have over 20 years of practical experience in the prevention of violence against children and adolescents.
We also have international experience; in particular, we led a one-year project inschools and homes for children in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Austrian Development Agency in 2008.
Our vision is that prevention of violence becomes an integral part of child protection regardless of religious, cultural, ethnic, or social backgrounds.
This project views itself as a health-policy measure in the sense of the World Health Organization and the Ottawa-Charta. (November 1986).
The execution of a project with a trans-cultural approach boosts the understanding of and respect for other cultures in children and thereby has a lasting impact against discrimination and racism. European ways of life have become increasingly trans-cultural. Our cultures no longer correspond to the idealizations of unified national cultures, but instead are characterized by a plurality of possible identities and exist across national borders.
One goal of the project, based on the concept of transculturality, is to improve the mutual understanding and the cultural and social interaction of the participating children, parents, and teachers. We use the term “trans-cultural competence” to denote the respect, appreciation, collective action, openness, and engagement with other cultures.
Living in such an environment is important in order to impart certain fundamental ethical values to the children. According to scientific investigations by Beelmann (2009), 5-7 year old children develop increasing ethnic prejudices.
To date, hardly any concepts exist in Austria that are suitable for schools and that combine work against racism and sexism. Developing such concepts is thus very much a forward-looking venture.
The main objective of the project is to decrease the risk factors of violence against girls and boys, especially those with migratory backgrounds. Protective factors for children will be improved at the selected model schools.
In some cases of sexual violence, girls and boys remain silent for cultural reasons. Therefore the message that they should not get involved in sexual acts, even against their will, is very strong.
By considering the multiple religious, ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds in our workshops, girls and boys are empowered to speak freely about transgressions and violence perpetrated against them.
In the participating schools we aim to anchor transcultural prevention of violence at a structural level and to contribute to the development of quality standards for the protection of children.
Another part of our project works with Good Practice Models for the Prevention of Transcultural Violence and Promotion of Health from Germany, Great Britain, and Scandinavia. We will further develop these models, adapting them to the particular environments in Vienna, and implement them in a sustainable way.
To ensure the long-term sustainability of this project, we will work with the teachers training colleges in Vienna, and develop a handbook and teaching materials.
In fall of 2011, we have wrote two online letters to sensitize parents in matters of prevention of sexual violence for the Austrian Federal Ministry of Economy, Family, and Youth.
Throughout the project, we will interact with the press, and public authorities and submit to external scientific evaluation by the Socio-Economic Research Center in Vienna.
The goals of the evaluation are to support the scientific presentation of our results. We aim to generate and disseminate expertise in Austria about which conditions are to be considered to ensure that trans-cultural prevention of violence succeeds inschools and which difficulties are met in practice.
Our participating schools
Our project is put into practice in six primary schools in Vienna, starting with 6-year-old children in grade 1.
In each school, we will work with children and stakeholders of the education system (superintendents, administrators, teachers, and parents).
We will suggest to the teachers and parents how girls and boys of different cultural backgrounds can be best protected from violence.
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