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Building Peaceful Families

Project Summary

Project title: Building Peaceful Families/Family Alternatives to Violence
Name of implementing agent(s): Peace Bridges & partner organizations
Project location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia (and partner locations)
Project dates: July 2009 – June 2012
Project description: Program and resource development relevant to healing and transforming family conflict/violence through advanced training modules for community peacebuilders and mobilization of these peacebuilders to implement relevant family peace education training and services in their own circles of influence

Problem: The people of Cambodia continue to face challenges related to preventing/healing family violence and cultivating healthy families, a problem that has been consistently identified both by the peacebuilders trained by Peace Bridges and by a growing body of research and program interventions. For example, the 2005 Baseline Survey on Domestic Violence in Cambodia highlighted the continued significance of this problem and identified the importance of programs addressing the transformation of attitudes regarding family. The report concluded that, “Little attention has been paid to conflict resolution and improved communication within the family, community based help structures, referral systems, counseling or working with violent men.” (86)

Project Timeline:

Step 1: In August 2008, Peace Bridges hired a new staff member to work with 2 expatriate advisors to build staff capacity and explore appropriate ways for Peace Bridges to address these needs. We are now conducting a small case study research project looking at the relevance of our peace education training to family violence.
Step 2: From August to December 2009, a team of Peace Bridges staff will begin designing a training program on cultivating peaceful families. This design team will work closely with two advisory committees. One group of both expatriate and Cambodian members with experience and expertise relevant to family conflict/violence will monitor design and content quality. A second group of Cambodian community members will test the cultural appropriateness of the lessons.
Step 3: A pilot program will be conducted January – June 2010. It is anticipated that this training will become an ongoing course, offered annually (2011 and 2012), providing specialized training for participants of Conflict Counseling and Mediation Training working with families.
Step 4: Peace Bridges staff will support participants in developing and implementing family peace education training and services in their own circles of influence (July 2010 – June 2012).
Step 5 and beyond: Ongoing staff capacity (relevant to family conflict/violence) and partnerships are developed. By the end of the initial 3 year project cycle, staff will make recommendations on future program directions. Possibilities include: men’s support groups, women’s support groups, premarital counseling training, family mediation training, etc.

Expected Impact:
To promote healthy family relations in Cambodian communities, as well as preventing and healing family conflict/violence, by equipping and mobilizing community peacebuilders

Intended Beneficiaries:
Direct: 60 peace builders participate in the Building Healthy Families training program, annually 20 people (six units, 1 month apart, each unit 3.5 days in length)
Indirect: peacebuilder families and communities (75% of those trained make plans with the mobilisation team to employ the KASH in their circles of influence)

Project Description*

I. BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION**

Violence in the home has been a growing concern in Cambodia and the focus of various studies and programs, even at the highest levels of government (i.e., the establishment of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs). Through the intentional work and education of various organizations, addressing violence in the home has become more culturally appropriate. However, studies continue to show a significant rate of incidence in Cambodian families.

In 1996, two studies documented the experience (Zimmerman, 1996) and prevalence (Nelson and Zimmerman, 1996) of family violence in Cambodia. A decade later, the most comprehensive research on Cambodia’s experience of family violence showed that, tragically, little had changed.*** In 2005, 64% of the population claimed to know a family**** that used violence by “Throwing something at the other, pushing or shoving or grabbing the other.” Further, 58% claimed to know a family that used violence by “Knocking on the head, slapping or spanking, kicking, biting, shaking, pulling hair, punching.” Even in families without physical violence, 93% of respondents said that it was acceptable for “cursing or insulting” to be used in family conflict and 92% claimed they knew a family that used cursing/insulting. Perhaps most significantly, respondent attitudes about the acceptability of violence, including extreme violence (e.g., threatening with a weapon, burning, choking, throwing acid, shooting, etc.), was consistently reported at disturbingly high levels. For example, when asked, “ In your opinion, … is it at any time acceptable for a husband to do this to his wife?,” 28% of respondents answered that it was at least sometimes acceptable to throw acid at or shoot the wife. (RGC 2005: 26-29)

In the 2005 study’s conclusions, the authors wrote –

“There has been a wide range of donors, government agencies and NGOs working
intensely to reduce domestic violence for the last nine years. … this study
demonstrates that these efforts have not lead to a signifcant change in attitude
or behaviors, …. At their core, these past approaches were unconnected to
Cambodian values and attitudes.” (RGC 2005: 86)

Specifically, the study called for programs with the following characteristics:

  1. Engages values and attitudes about power and control, specifically within the context of gender and family roles
  2. Addresses men rather than focusing exclusively on human rights education of women
  3. Engages widespread attitudes of acceptance of violence, abuse, and “men’s entitlement to greater rights” rather than focusing exclusively on domestic violence as a crime
  4. Operates with awareness of the importance of “keeping the family together at all costs” as a common value, including offering a wider range of possibilities that include “conflict resolution and improved communication within the family, community based help structures, referral systems, counselling or working with violent men.” (RGC 2005: 86-87)

Peace Bridges is in a unique position to meet these challenges.

An external evaluation (February 2009) has recently demonstrated the effectiveness and sustainability in Peace Bridges’ programming in impacting the attitudes of participants, including relevance to family conflict and violence. (See Stories of Significant Change)

Peace Bridges is also conducting a small case study research project that is exploring the relevance of its current training programs Conflict Counseling and Mediation to family conflict and violence. This training includes lessons on power, control, identity, conflict transformation, empathetic communication, and conflict counseling – all of which have been identified by the Baseline Survey as essential contributions to addressing family violence in Cambodia.

Finally, Peace Bridges already has a well-established network of community peacebuilders, many of whom are eager to further develop their skills and/or implement new peace programming in their local context. The potential for a quality program addressing family conflict/violence and encouraging the development of healthy family systems is very great.

The Building Peaceful Families/Families Alternatives to Violence project is a response to an expressed need for more explicit training for families, churches and other community groups to respond to the fact of violence in their homes and communities.

II. GOALS, OBJECTIVES & ACTIVITIES

A. Goal (Expected Impact): To promote healthy family relations, as well as preventing and healing domestic violence, by equipping and mobilizing community peacebuilders

B. Objectives:
1. Contribute to the body of knowledge about peace education KASH applicable to family conflict/violence through research-based program development and design

2. Empower peacebuilders in both their personal and professional/community lives to engage in and promote healthy family relationships.

3. Build capacity of Peace Bridges’ staff and peacebuilders to design, participate in, monitor and evaluate peace education training and services that promote healthy family relations, as well as prevent and/or heal family conflict/violence

B. Activities include: 

1) Complete a small case study research project looking at the relevance of our current peace education training (CCMT) to family violence.

2) Design a training program on cultivating peaceful families. Advisory committees will assist Peace Bridges staff in discerning what content and methods to use. Possible topics could include: characteristics of healthy families, power and identity within family/gender roles, positive communication strategies (including identifying needs, distinguishing between needs and strategies, empathetic listening, expressing needs), conflict management, stress management, parenting issues (including basic child development, effects on children of experiencing/witnessing shame and violence, connection verses coercion, discipline strategies), effects of violence on families/individuals/communities, and how to build a referral network.

3) Conduct a pilot program (January – June 2010) and offer the resulting training course annually to 20 peacebuilders.

4) Support participants in developing and implementing family peace education training and services in their own circles of influence, including strategy planning, monitoring and evaluation.

5) Continue developing staff capacity (relevant to family conflict/violence) and partnerships, enabling staff to make recommendations for future program directions.

C. Project Beneficiaries

Direct: 60 peace builders participate in the Building Healthy Families training program, annually 20 people (six units, month apart, each unit 3.5 days in length)

Indirect: peacebuilder families and communities (75% of those trained make plans with the mobilisation team to employ the KASH in their circles of influence)

Participants in the long-term training are selected based on: personal commitment to peacebuilding, supervisor/employer support, interest/involvement in family conflict/violence, and community recommendations. Care is taken to consider gender, socio-econonomic status, and geography (e.g., including participants from the provinces).

III. PROJECT MONITORING AND EVALUATION

Program and lesson design relevant to the pilot program will be monitored by two advisory groups. The first, consisting of a balance of expatriate and Cambodian members with experience and expertise relevant to family conflict/violence issues, will monitor the theoretical foundations, content and design. The second, consisting of Cambodian community members, will monitor the program and lesson design for cultural appropriateness.

Pre- and post-test instruments will be developed to measure changes in participant KASH (Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills and Habits) relevant to family conflict/violence, both in the pilot program and in future modules. This will be coordinated by program trainers.

Partners participating in mobilization programs will use relevant strategy planning tools in preparation for implementing family peace education programs. Peace Bridges staff will support ongoing program monitoring and evaluation using the Most Significant Change (MSC) methodology, as well as including activities in standard reporting procedures by relevant staff.

All training and services will be subject to Peace Bridges external evaluations (normally performed at 3 year intervals) for effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and sustainability.

IV. Bibliography

Ketchum, David and Holly Ketchum (2008). Understanding Family Violence in Cambodia: A Background Study (Phnom Penh: Peace Bridges).

Nelson, Erin and Cathy Zimmerman (1996). Household Survey on Domestic Violence in Cambodia (Phnom Penh: PADV and MOWA).

RGC (Royal Government of Cambodia) (2005). Violence Against Women – A Baseline Survey (Phnom Penh: MOWA).

WHO (World Health Organization) (2001). Putting Women First: Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Research on Domestic Violence against Women (Geneva: WHO).

Zimmerman, Cathy (1996). Plates in a Basket Will Rattle: Domestic Violence in Cambodia (Phnom Penh: PADV).

*This document is meant to provide basic information about the Peaceful Families program. For more details, including how the project fits into Peace Bridges’ wider programming goals, please refer to the full program proposal and budget.

**For a more comprehensive review of the literature documenting family violence in Cambodia, please see Ketchum (2008).

***“The prevalence of domestic violence as reported in this survey and in the 1996 PADV study has not changed significantly. The percentage of people who know a woman experiencing domestic violence in Cambodia – 64% – is lower than the 74% who reported knowing a family which experienced domestic violence in 1996. however [sic] the PADV survey asked about violence perpetrated by any family member.” (RGC 2005: 86)

****Because of under-reporting by victims, the most reliable indicators of the actual prevalence of family violence is reports about other families. See WHO (2001), 14-17 for more information.

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