Research has shown that many of the men that become perpetrators of domestic violence were victims of violence and abuse as children. Since the home is the crucible where the individual’s character is shaped, our society needs to commit to structures which support healthy family development and in so doing prevent the perpetuation of violence in the home.
If children are made aware of this issue and given the skills to make different choices, the cycle of violence can be broken. When domestic violence occurs in the home, children are at an increased risk of suffering physical abuse themselves. Regardless of whether children are physically abused, the emotional effects of witnessing domestic violence are very similar to the psychological trauma associated with being a victim of child abuse and may include disruption of normal developmental patterns that result in emotional, cognitive and behavioural disturbances.
Furthermore, as violence is a learnt behavior, children often learn that the only way to resolve their problems is to resort to violence. When children grow up and enter into relationships of their own, they often rely on what they were taught, making them extremely vulnerable to becoming perpetrators or victims by virtue of their learnt problem solving tools. The cycle of violence can thus be passed down through generations.
FAMSA’s Male/Female Identity Workshop
FAMSA Western Cape’s Male and Female Identity workshop is FAMSA’s flagship youth programme at the primary school level. Piloted in 2004, the programme runs over 5 sessions and is designed to educate and create awareness amongst school going children about several social issues that these children may be exposed to at home, at school or amongst their friends.
The aim of the project is to prevent the cycle of violence through the implementation of preventative and awareness programmes with children - especially the boy child at primary school level.
The content of these sessions include the following;
Session 1: Introduction, Gender and Sexuality
Session 2: Self Image and personal growth
Session 3: Domestic Violence
Session 4: Identifying feelings and healthy management of emotions
Session 5: Assertiveness and termination
It is estimated that approximately 1000 children will be reached each year by this project. The workshops are offered in schools in the Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Dunoon, Mitchell’s Plain, Elsiesriver and Factreton communities.
The programme aims:
- To educate and facilitate healthy attitudes and belief systems.
- To create a shift from the set patriarchal thinking, which perpetuates the use of violence against woman.
- To break the cycle of violence and prevent the intergenerational transfer of the cycle of violence.
- To deliver the service within disadvantaged communities. School-goers therefore have an opportunity to be heard and supported.
- To empower young minds, our future leaders, to speak out against abuse.
- By working with the youth, we trust that the high incidence of domestic violence will decline as a result of positive and empowering teachings and services. Learners will have the tools to build healthy homes and communities.
- To unite school goers from various communities, and to mobilize activism against the abuse of woman and children. The Male/Female identity workshop is therefore used as a platform for FAMSA’s annual Mini Men’s March - a campaign during the16 Days of Activism against violence against woman and children.