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Prevention of violence is one of the most urgent tasks in the modern society. Despite the prevalence of domestic violence, it is often hidden from the ‘outsiders’, as if it does not exist in our lives. Preventive work with families as well as with adolescents, preparing them for independent living is very important and, in particular, work with women and children – the least protected members of society. It is necessary not only to acknowledge the existence of such a program, which, of course, must be supported in the future. Comprehensive approach to the issue of domestic violence is no less important.
Creation of a system of continuously preventing measures has become a proper step in solving the problem of domestic violence. The primary prevention is aimed at avoiding the acts of home violence. Secondary prevention involves cessation of violence in certain families within various ways and means of elimination the consequences. The third level performs a complex of rehabilitation measures for victims of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a social phenomenon. It covers various segments of society and almost all age groups. To provide a comprehensive approach in prevention of domestic violence, we need to organize work on all three levels for each target group.
One of the main target groups for prevention of domestic violence represents children and teenagers. The objective of the first level of violence prevention is formation of non-violent, non-aggressive models of behavior for the educated young persons.
We should use appropriate gaming forms of studying for the elementary school students to help them to increase self-estimation, to inculcate tolerance and to form the concepts of justice.
For the middle school students, self-expression, self-estimation and tolerance are still important, but in this age it is necessary to understand their own personalities. Such sessions can be conducted in the form of interviews, workshops, and discussions.
High school pupils, students and teenagers need acquisition of the knowledge and skills to build a harmonious relationship in the family. It can be made during the lectures, discussions and trainings.
These programs are developed to work for a number of years. Young people, who experience adult life, can follow the rules and formed regulations in the process of communication.
The second level of violence prevention for this group is aimed at eliminating violence against particular children and teenagers.
The third level of prevention requires taking a child out from the environment of brutality and providing rehabilitation activities (medical treatment, therapy, etc.).The most important aspect in solving the problem of domestic violence is awareness. Prevention provides all kinds of information about the phenomenon of domestic violence: concept, types, effects, as well as its alternative – harmonious relationships in the family, their advantages and availability. It could be published, performed by means of media, public discussions between different specialists and politicians, and lectures for wide audience (Anonymous, 2002).
Children are vulnerable to sexual violence because of poor knowledge and experience which is necessary to understand and describe what is happening to them. They often suffer from physical force, as well as adults already have power of authority. After the sexual assault happened, most children begin to suffer feelings of guilt, fear, shame, and humiliation. Generally, they have been taught to love and respect adults who perform violence. When these children grow up and begin to understand the nature of sexual violence, they often experience a deep sense of shame and guilt for what happened to them. In this situation the child or young person needs help and support of both parents and, what is not less important, a psychologist (Ramamoorthy, 2011).
Analyzing specific characteristics of social care for families and children, it is undisputed that a psychologist is obliged to provide emergency counseling to children, who suffer sexual violence. It is important to conduct individual therapeutic and group work. In such cases, if the group is open (non-permanent membership), it is advisable to create a support group instead of therapeutic group to operate the issues of violence by means of individual work to create a healthy relationship, and give every child a chance to get support from the group members. Support groups give children the opportunity to feel that they are not alone in their pain and worries, to believe in themselves and feel joy of friendly relations based on the mutual respect.
In case of alleged short-term staying of children in these institutions, the administration has to form appropriate training groups, as well as counseling groups that will enable children and young people to identify their problems and understand them; to distinguish their feelings related to the situation of violence and to find solutions to difficult situations. When a psychologist forms a private group for a long time practice, it is necessary to focus on individual performance as well as on the period, during which every child has already been a part of the program (Davies, 2013).
Sexual violence can be characterized by strong symptoms, but sometimes it is expressed with obsolete and sometimes hidden behavioral changes. Reaction of children depends on their age, state of mind, the nature of abuse, their attitude to the offender, and other factors such as changes in behavior – most of all, reactions to stress. It can be difficult to recognize its underlying cause, because such changes may occur under the influence of other stressful situations.
The main task of the psychologist is to provide other specialists with information about symptomatic forms of sexual violence in order to identify the fact of violence. Psychological social service agencies can use all kinds of collaboration in their work.
The group work can reduce the level of anxiety; give the opportunity to develop communication skills; promote the development of adaptive interpersonal and social skills, which are out of normal in most cases; help to create safe therapeutic environment in which children and teenagers can discuss their painful feelings, experience, and regain sense of security and trust.
Humanistic approach gives children the opportunity to feel that they are not alone in their trouble, to believve in themselves and realize the consequences of sexual violence, to live out the situation of violence in a safe environment, to work out the complex and ambivalent feelings related to the situation of violence and integrate it.
In the process of children’s allocation to the counseling groups we should consider the following:
- Child must have the appropriate level of arbitrariness, in order to follow the group rules and restrictions, and to have control over his impulsive reactions not to pose a threat to other members of the group;
- A child must be able to speak of the experience of violence without emotional distress and to listen to the narratives of other children on the topic;
- A child with significant mental retardation or a child that does not have reading skills may suffer troubles, while performing group tasks – it can lead to increased aggression, destructive behavior or exclusion;
- Therapy for children with psychotic symptoms or in state of deep depression, as well as for children with schizoid behavior generally does not give a positive result.
It is important to organize 2-3 individual meetings with each child in order to prepare them for the group work. At this stage, particular attention should be paid to the level of anxiety of the child. Moderate anxiety on the first steps is acceptable, but too high level of anxiety can interfere with therapy. Acquaintance with the rules and regulations of the group will also help to build the child’s sense of security and confidence. It is important to discuss such issues as mandatory privacy and possible ridicules. The child has to make sure that the psychologist will be there, giving him/her support and protection (Shakeel, 2011).
Given the increasing importance of sexuality and gender identity in adolescence, groups usually consist of children and teenagers of the same sex. Selection of teenagers is very important and we should take into account child’s attitude to the deviant sexual activity, the degree of self-awareness, awareness and understanding of gender stereotypes that prevail in society.
Group therapy is especially useful with teenagers – it reduces the profound sense of isolation, sense of their own rottenness and defilement, suffered by most abused children. The understanding that such a problem has also happened to others, helps children to authorize themselves internally and in the eyes of their peers, helping them to normalize the response to the experience of violence. The group is the one safe place where counseling may be performed through mutual support (Rotten, 2013).
The problem of the program is that, despite the importance and urgency of preventing and correcting the effects of violence, today there is no unified vision in this field of humanitarian studies. There is also no single theoretical and research paradigm; full terminological and conceptual apparatus is not performed. So we did, I believe, only the first steps to meet a better future. It is of a vital importance to unify all knowledge in this sphere of sociological service to provide our federal government with the reliable impetuses to make the lives of our children better.
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