Empowering children to be safe

2019-03-12 06:00

Simon’s Town Community Policing Forum (CPF) will be hosting a five-day children’s educational programme until Saturday 23 March at the Simon’s Town Library.

The programme will start on Tuesday 18 March. It is aimed at educating young adults on “Good Citizenship” and covers the following subjects: rape prevention, alcoholism/substance abuse, family planning, pregnancy, safety on the internet, all aspects of dog care,wildlife conservation among other things.

It is suitable for children between the ages of 14 and 17. At the end of the programme, all participants will be awarded a certificate from the Simon’s Town Community Policing Forum and one from Animal Welfare Education.

There will be a short written exam and prizes will be awarded to the winners.

The programme which is being done for the first time in the Simon’s Town area has had several episodes being aired on television outside South Africa. The sought after programme was started by Shahida, who didn’t want her surname published.

She said the idea came to her when she bought her first dog. When reading up on dog care, she came to a chapter on the benefits of sharing your life with a dog. Through her reading she discovered that dogs are being used in libraries to help children with reading difficulties, dogs/cats are now being used in rehabilitating prisoners among other things.

“With reading further I realised that kindness and compassion are the first requisites towards reducing domestic violence and bullying of the more vulnerable. If a person is very gentle with animals, it is unlikely he/she will attack a child or another human. Hence the importance of animals in this project. As they say ‘the toots of violence lie in animal abuse’.

“If we are to address the high levels of violence in our society, we need to understand that unless we address the roots of the issue, by teaching our children kindness and compassion towards the more vulnerable, we will never win,” she says.

This lead to 11 years of study and developing the programmes that she had shared with a lot of children. She firmly believes that if society wants to raise kind and compassionate children, they have to teach them. Teaching children to care for animals and the importance of other forms of life is the very basis of reducing violence in society.

Shahida adds that research repeatedly shows that the roots of violence lie in animal abuse. “Hence the emphasis on dog/cat care. They must also be taught to look after the area they live in, hence “Pollution and Eco-System” have been included. I think it is of paramount importance to teach children about these issues. It is surprising how many of us are unaware of simple safety precautions. Unless children know about the dangers, they cannot protect themselves. I sincerely hope that children who attend this programme will be able to practice what we are trying to teach them, thereby taking better care of themselves, better care of our animals, our city and our environment,” she says.

She will be working with Social Development, Simon’s Town police, Animal Welfare Education, Soteria Ministries as well as Baboon Matters

V For more information on this programme call 076 464 7794.

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