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Meet the “Super Heroes” keeping children safe

Move over, Avengers. The world has a new band of super heroes and they operate out of a small village on Myanmar’s border with Thailand.

Zay and his friends have formed a ChildFund-supported group called the Super Heroes, whose role is to promote children’s rights and help protect children in their village.

“We chose that name because we are the super heroes to protect our village,” says 13-year-old, Zay.

Groups like the Super Heroes are part of a three-year child protection project in Dawei that aims to strengthen community-based child protection systems.

Myanmar has significantly high rates of violence against children. Zarni, who oversees the child protection project in Dawei, says much of this stems from a lack of awareness about children’s rights.

“Physical abuse is prevalent in Dawei,” Zarni says.

“The main reason behind the problem is awareness. There are two parts. The caregivers don’t have the awareness and the children themselves don’t have the awareness.”

The project aims to increase community understanding by conducting sessions about children’s rights and child protection, delivering pamphlets, and setting up posters and billboards.

ChildFund also provides communities with a list of relevant child protection service providers so people know who to contact when they witness or experience violence or abuse.

“It’s effective,” Zarni says. “There are more informants than before. And there are more identified child cases than before.”

In order to strengthen these community-based child protection mechanisms, Child Protection Groups (CPG) and Child Groups (CG) are formed in the target villages.

Zay, 13, is one of the “Super Heroes” keeping his community safe

Myint, age 60, says the CPGs are an effective way of getting the whole community involved in ending violence against children.

“There are many children in our village and there are only a few people who want to work for the best interests of the children,” he says.

“I became a member because I want to help the children as much as I can.”

Members of the groups receive training on leadership, community mobilisation, financial management, psychosocial support and online safety.

The groups meet regularly to share news and discuss ideas that will help children.

“My concern for my village is the weakness of awareness,” Myint says.

“The main responsibility of CPG is to educate children and pass on the knowledge to other people.

“Another responsibility is to contact the service providers or government departments when cases arise.”

While the CPG members are sharing their knowledge, children like Zay also play an important role in raising awareness.

Child Groups work with their peers to raise awareness about children’s rights and encourage the protection of children.

“Children are the future leaders,” says Zay.

“So the elders should nurture the children properly. The most important thing is the environment the children live in.

“For example, if the adults are fighting, the children will follow their way. Thus, they should avoid bad examples and protect the children.”

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