The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa at Fagalii continues to open its doors to host the ongoing community prevention programme by Samoa Victim Support Group to address violence against children.
Despite evening services and church meetings on Sundays, the congregation still made time to continue learning as the Program reaches Module 4 of the Positive Discipline Parenting and Module 4 of the Life Skills Development for Adolescents.
For the 44 year old father Tofilau Semisi Matautia, the discussions resonated with him as both a parent and a teacher. “As a parent, you should not hesitate to set limits for your child. They are important for guiding your child. But make sure you set these limits with empathy. This will make them more effective. Setting limits is especially crucial in situations that can cause physical damage. It is important that you connect the limits with empathy. Remember that children will grow up to treat themselves in the way you have treated them. If you are harsh with them, they will learn to be harsh with themselves and others,” he stated.
Church Minister Rev. Petaia Leavai emphasized the importance of long-term planning.
“Punishing your children can make them feel terrible about themselves and leads to very low self esteem. It can also undermine the relationship with your child as your child seeks support elsewhere, such as with peers, with friends and others. Disciplining your children on the other hand teaches them important social and life skills that will support them as they become parents themselves.”
Many other participants stepped forward to contribute to the discussion and demonstrated clear signs of behavior and attitude changes towards violence against children.
From Module 1 to Module 4, there has been a noted connection between the participating adolescents of Fagalii, which highlighted the development of supportive relationships. Our cultural aspect that supports male respect for women and girls became an interesting ‘Talanoa’ topic, when considering gender equality.
Changing mindsets, attitudes and behavior towards violence against children is a work in progress. What the community prevention program by SVSG and UNICEF has done, is challenge the harmful norms that perpetuate violence against children, through the introduction of positive discipline parenting.
The community prevention program for the protection of children in Samoa, is part of a continuing partnership between SVSG and the UNICEF Pacific since 2015. The seven communities piloted for the 2021-2022 community prevention program are Toamua, Fasitoo-uta, Fagalii, Luatuanuu, Solosolo, Siumu and Samalaeulu in Savaii.