Teaching children about their rights and privacy through interactive activities – The Džimba Safety Programme in Latvia 

The non-governmental organisation “Centrs Dardedze” developed the “Džimba Safety Programme” with the aim of reducing the risk of violence in children’s lives through teaching children about their rights, unsafe situations, and how to handle them.  

Specialists use interactive storytelling to teach children about their rights  

This programme is delivered to preschool and primary school-aged children (5–10-year-olds). The programme is implemented by specially educated trainers who use interactive methods like music, games, films and role-plays to educate children on their safety. Children using these materials embark on a fictitious journey with the hero Džimba and learn about physical safety, safety in their relationships, their right to grow up free from corporal punishment and other forms of violence, and where to turn to for help.  

Children learn to identify and respond to unsafe situations  

Through this programme, children learn to identify corporal punishment. They learn that it can occur at places like at school and in the home, that it can include physical and emotional violence as well as degrading and humiliating treatment, and that it is unacceptable. Children also learn about bodily autonomy – that their bodies belong exclusively to them – the difference between good and bad touching, and to distinguish between good and bad secrets. 

They learn how to speak out about unsafe situations and to seek help from people they trust.  

Learning safety skills and self-protection knowledge by engaging in creative and playful interaction 

In one of the programme’s sessions, children are shown a picture of adult who is about to spank a child. The children are asked to describe what might be happening, who the persons in the picture might be, and if there are people who would be allowed to do this to them. Many children admit during the session that they believe their parent or teacher is allowed to spank them.  

Through sessions like this, children can learn about personal safety, ultimately preventing the risk of violence.  

Teachers and parents learn about effective ways to communicate with children  

Teachers and parents are active participants in the program, providing ongoing support to the children encouraging the continued practice of the lessons learned, even after the program has concluded. Moreover, parents learn about healthy relationships and effective approaches, and how talk with their children about their rights.  

Children who have adequate knowledge of their rights and know how to deal with unsafe situations are less likely to be victims of violence 

The children’s knowledge about personal safety in a relationship is tested before and after the program. Evaluations show children improved their knowledge about their rights, privacy, and how to deal with unsafe situations. It is envisioned that these children are less likely to be victims of violence as a result of this programme.  

Surveys with parents show they recognise that their children did not have sufficient safety knowledge and skills before the programme, and that they appreciate the opportunity to talk openly with their children about dangers, risks of violence and safety. The surveys also shows that the programme prompts parents to reflect critically on their own parenting style. 

The programme is being delivered to 60% of kindergartens across the country and is reaching over 12,000 children. The Džimba Safety programme is the first programme that covers preventing child sexual abuse to have national coverage in Latvia. 

Watch our interview with Agnese Sladzevska, founder and board member of Centrs Dardedze that developed the Džimba Safety Programme:

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