Helping children and youth learn about safe and healthy dating practices involves establishing good communication between partners, understanding gender equality and stereotypes, creating boundaries, expressing feelings and perceiving signs of possible dating violence, among other lessons.
Stefanie facilitated the 13-to-17 group. “I found some of them have experienced violence in dating because they were afraid to say no,” she says. “They are afraid of losing their boyfriends. They don`t know to whom to share. They need someone they can trust.”
She remembers a girl who was raped and became pregnant, which caused her to drop out of school. “The Community Development Agency of Semarang contacted the Child Forum to ask our opinions on this case. Through the discussion, we found out that students were sharing sexual content on mobile phones at school. We then held a sharing session with the students at the school on violence against children and on reproductive health.”
The facilitators have learned that peer involvement makes students listen more closely than to adults dictating rules.
“When the information is delivered by their own friends, it is more easily accepted and understood,” Irma says. “When it is delivered by older people, the kids tend to be quiet.”
Through the Child Forum, ChildFund also provides leadership training for youth to encourage and support them to be the leaders and role models among their peers. With youth facilitators in the students` communities, more young people will hopefully feel more comfortable seeking the help they deserve.
“If I hadn’t joined the Child Forum, I would still be the quiet and shy girl, and only be focused on academic lessons,” Irma says. “I wouldn’t have any broad ideas about the issues that affect children. Now, since I have joined many activities at the Child Forum, I know more!”