Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A Message to Indonesia: Please Stop

By Lauren Rumble, Chief of Child Protection

Lauren Rumble (front) with representatives from Sudah Dong and UNICEF Indonesia. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker.

One of the best parts of my job at UNICEF Indonesia is working directly with the young people of this country. I am fortunate enough to regularly meet such dedicated, creative and inspirational youth – so many of whom are making a real difference in their communities.

I recently met with the team behind Sudah Dong (meaning Please Stop), a NGO run by young people for young people that focuses on different ways to address bullying. The organisation was founded by Katyana Wardhana in 2014 shortly after her own experience of bullying at school.

Sudah Dong aims to mobilise actions of non-violence and peer support which will put an end to bullying. In June, Sudah Dong released its first manual for children and adolescents entitled “End Bullying” which they hope will reach one million pupils across the country. Within two weeks of launching, 625 copies had already been downloaded (you can download your own copy here).

The release of this manual is timely: Indonesia has one of the highest rates of physical attacks against students in the world (40 percent). More than 50 percent of pupils have experienced bullying at school. School, a place of learning and safety, is for many pupils, where they are most unsafe.

The causes of bullying in Indonesia are not widely understood, but its consequences are grave. Children who experience bullying can go on to suffer from overall mental health problems, anxiety and depression and fail to progress academically or even drop out of school altogether.

Children who experience violence are also more likely to commit it. Child victims and witnesses of domestic violence, bullying or sexual violence are more at risk of experiencing or perpetrating violence as an adult.

Sudah Dong wants to interrupt the cycle of violence. They believe that young people do not want to be violent, but are forced into it. Those who are victims often suffer in silence. “Bullying is a taboo. So many victims of bullying are afraid to talk about their experience,” says Katyana. “Hazing, violent orientation programms and day-to-day threats and intimidation are considered normal and children are too afraid to come forward against it.”

Sudah Dong believes children need to know they are not alone if they experience bullying. So they have created a network of 604 volunteers that are trained to interact online with children and adolescents reporting bullying.

“We tell children they are not the only ones. That they can still learn and lead productive lives. And that they can support other victims,” Katyana says. Sudah Dong also offers school visits to talk to children about bullying and bring this concern out into the open.

Katyana has big dreams for her organisation. “My dream is that we can train volunteers across the country to make more school visits and reach out to more children.” Katyana’s vision has inspired many fellow youth – showing that young people can make a real difference in ending violence against children.

You can too! Join the Indonesia #ENDViolence Against Children campaign here: https://pelindunganak.org/