In the project “Applying Safe Behaviours”, SOS Children’s Villages is working to enable children, young people and child and youth care professionals to prevent and appropriately respond to peer violence amongst children and young people in alternative care and vulnerable families.
“Applying Safe Behaviours: Preventing and Responding to Peer Violence Amongst Children Without or At Risk of Losing Parental Care” is a two-year project (2021-2023) co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union.
Through the project, we aim to make children and young people active agents in creating a safe environment for themselves and their peers, and to enable child and youth care professionals to respond appropriately to peer violence amongst children and young people.
The project is run in cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages’ member associations in Belgium, France, Italy, Romania and Spain.
Why do children and young people need “Safe Behaviours”?
Children and young people without parental care and in vulnerable families often have a history of abuse, neglect or toxic stress, emotional, social or behavioural challenges, or have witnessed or experienced violence in the family.
As a result of these adverse experiences, children and young people without parental care are more vulnerable to becoming victims of violence from their peers, or carrying out violence towards their peers.
Peer violence is one of the most common ways that children and young people experience violence, and children in care have consistently raised the issue of peer violence and bullying as a significant problem affecting their lives. Research in Italy found that 6 out of 10 young people have experienced peer violence in the form of bullying and/or cyberbullying.
Unfortunately, despite the prevalence of peer violence against children and young people without parental care, child and youth care professionals often experience challenges in responding effectively.
For children and young people who have experienced peer violence, it is crucial that both they themselves and their care professionals are equipped and enabled to respond to such situations.
Applying a “Safe Behaviours” approach
By training and informing children, young people, child and youth care professionals, and communities on peer violence, we aim to provide them with the knowledge and tools needed to understand the issue and act against it.
Children and young people will be able to apply a Safe Behaviours approach in their lives, resulting in a safer environment for them and their peers, and child and youth care professionals will have an improved capacity to prevent, identify and respond appropriately to violence amongst children.
The project will employ a Safe Behaviours approach for the prevention of peer violence amongst children, drawing on the methodology of the Protective Behaviours approach, which focuses on children’s right to feel safe at all times and the development of selfconfidence and skills that help them to avoid being victimised.
Through the project, we aim to reach children and young people who are in alternative care or supported by child protection authorities throughout Belgium, France, Italy, Romania and Spain.
The project will also target child and youth care professionals in the project countries who work directly with children, young people, caregivers and families at risk on a daily basis. This includes roles such as field staff supporting disadvantaged families, caregivers, foster parents, teachers, youth workers, day care staff and social workers.
Key project activities
Throughout the project, we will develop and implement:
- Face-to-face peer trainings to build the capacity of 455 children and young people to apply a Safe Behaviours approach, and empower and equip them to recognise and speak about peer violence.
- Face-to-face trainings to train 572 child and youth care professionals to prevent, identify and respond to peer violence amongst children in a balanced, safe and caring manner, ensuring the best interest of every child.
- Two sets of online awareness-raising modules on the prevention of peer violence amongst children: One set for children and young people, and a second set for child and youth care professionals and adults from the local communities.
- Evidence-based policy recommendations in order to advocate for systematic changes to improve outcomes for children affected by peer violence.
SOS Children’s Villages Belgium
SOS Children’s Villages France
SOS Children’s Villages Italy
SOS Children’s Villages Romania
SOS Children’s Villages Spain