IJF project manager Laura Hukom, far left. (Photo courtesy of Plan Indonesia)

Child-Oriented NGOs Launch Joint Anti-Violence Campaign


NOVEMBER 25, 2019

Jakarta. Six non-government organizations in Indonesia with a focus on child protection have launched a joint initiative called Indonesia Joining Forces, or IJF, to end violence against children through an advocacy campaign in schools across the country.

The six child-oriented NGOs are ChildFund International Indonesia, SOS Children's Villages Indonesia, Terre des Hommes International Federation, Save the Children Indonesia, Plan International Foundation Indonesia and Wahana Visi Indonesia.

"Schools in Indonesia are still not free from violence against children. We will come up with a plan to ensure our schools are free of violence," IJF project manager Laura Hukom said on Monday.

Laura said IJF always makes sure it involves children during the formulation stage of its programs. A pilot program will start soon at 48 schools in Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara.

"We treat children as subjects, not objects. They have rights and we make sure they can communicate them. We will pay close attention to the cultural context and respect local wisdom," Laura said.

According to a 2019 baseline study by IJF, only 16.8 percent of students in Indonesia felt safe in school. Almost 54 percent of them said violence in schools most often happens in toilets and canteens.

The study involved 642 seventh-grade students from 12 schools in 8 cities as correspondents.

Mikiko Otani, a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child said school is an important agent of peace for children and its safety and security must be protected.

"School is a cross-road for children that may decide whether or not they could live a peaceful life. It's also a cross-road between families and communities. We have to keep it safe," Mikiko said.

"Yesterday I met so many brilliant Indonesian children who told me about the violence they see at their schools. Many of them said everyone needs to know more about child rights. All the more reason for us to involve children in our programs, we have to do better by them," Mikiko said.

IJF's current recommendations to end violence in schools are: all schools should have a prevention program and policy against child violence; create a non-violent culture among parents, teachers and students; and formulate a standard operating procedure for education institutions and central and regional governments to prevent violence.

Local Wisdom = Violence?

Child protection activist Roostien Ilyas said efforts to protect children from violence must take into account local context and wisdom.

"We can't have the same approach for every child," she told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday.

"Indonesia has over 470 ethnic groups. We can't treat their children the same way. Our approach has to be informed by local wisdom. In some areas, teachers still deal out old-school punishment because that's what their local wisdom tells them to do," Roostien said.

"We should listen to the parents and the teachers. We can't just come in and tell them to follow the accepted norms of the international community. Some of these parents didn't experience any formal education," she said.

Indonesia Misses Deadline

Indonesia had missed the deadline for submitting its quinquennial report to the Committee of the Rights of the Child, which was due on Oct. 7.

The report is the responsibility of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI), the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Commission for Women (Komnas Perempuan).

In 2014, the committee said the Indonesian government should "amend its current legislation to prohibit corporal punishment everywhere, including in the family, schools and childcare settings" and to "carry out public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment of children and promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment."

The Jakarta Globe has contacted Komnas HAM about the missed deadline but has not received any response.