Youth for change: Prevention and response to gender-based violence and human trafficking

The Child Witness institute has developed a train-the-trainer course for adolescents, the purpose of which is to provide them with the knowledge and skills to train other youth on issues of violence and exploitation and the prevention and response thereof. Once trained, these youth will be encouraged to return to their communities, churches and schools and offer workshops to other youth. These youth will form a network of peer counselors who will engage with other youth networks to entrench a culture of youth advocacy in the field of violence and exploitation of children.

Target audience

The course is aimed at youth between the ages of 15 and 25 years, as well as those officials who are targeted with the development of youth programmes and outreach.

Course content

The course consists of the following topics:

The Need for Gender Resocialisation: The Legacy of Violence

Since gender-based violence is a significant underlying cause of abuse and exploitation of women and children, this module focuses on the myths and stereotypes surrounding gender constructs. The participants will be exposed to these common myths and stereotypes and will be required to evaluate them and challenge their validity. The participants will also be required to workshop myths and stereotypes that they identify within their own communities and families.

Children’s Rights

The participants will be introduced to the concept of rights and the relevant conventions and charters that are applicable to children. Knowledge is part of the process of empowerment, and participants will be provided with detailed information about the individual rights applicable to children. The participants will then be required to workshop what rights are being enforced and what rights are not.

Child Development: The Adolescent

In order for the participants to work effectively with children and youth at risk in their communities, it is essential that they understand the way adolescents behave and think. This knowledge will also assist the participants to understand themselves and, therefore, contribute to empowerment. The presentation includes aspects of child development relating to adolescents, focusing on the salient features of adolescents from a cognitive and socio-emotional perspective, and addresses some of the challenges adolescents face.

Sexual Development

Understanding sexual development is key to assisting adolescents to make informed decisions about their sexual behaviour. This knowledge will also contribute towards prevention of sexual exploitation. This module examines the sexual development of children from a social, cognitive and moral perspective and provides information about sexual norms at different ages. Participants will also be required to workshop the attitudes of youth towards sexual behaviour.


Youth are at the centre of the global HIV epidemic, with about 40% of new infections taking place amongst people between the ages of 15 and 24 years. In addition, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to almost two-thirds (61%) of all youth living with HIV. In view of these statistics, it is vital that the concept of HIV/Aids and other STIs be included in the training.

Gender-based Violence

This module provides a general introduction to the concept of gender-based violence and attempts to provide a definitional framework within which to understand the nature, causes, contributing factors and consequences of gender-based violence. The module includes information on sexual violence, domestic and intimate partner violence, trafficking, female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices, and gender-based violence during times of war.

Child Abuse

In order for youth to be able to recognise and respond appropriately and sensitively to possible cases of child abuse, it is essential that they understand the dynamics underlying the different types of abuse and the multiplicity of these types in any one case of child abuse. This module, therefore, will focus on the definitions and dynamics of physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

Online Sexual Offending

There is an increased public and professional concern about internet-facilitated sexual offending, reflected in the promulgation of new legislation and a greater number of prosecutions. Online sexual offending takes many forms and this unit will examine the various forms this offence takes, including the possession and distribution of child pornography, the production of child pornography, sexual solicitations, and conspiracy crimes. The unit (module) will investigate the motivations of offenders, contact offending histories and recidivism risk factors.

Child Trafficking

This module will deal with the concept of trafficking, and will examine the causes of trafficking and the methodologies employed. The purpose here is to provide the participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify cases of possible trafficking, thereby contributing to empowerment and intervention.

Child Soldiers

Hundreds and thousands of children, under the age of 18 years, serve in government forces or armed rebel groups. Some are as young as 8 years old. Children are uniquely vulnerable to military recruitment because of their emotional and physical immaturity. They are easily manipulated and can be drawn into violence that they are too young to resist or understand. This module focuses on the concept of child soldiering and its impact on the child and society as a whole.

Child Marriages

This session examines the concept of child marriages, and investigates the causes and consequences of child marriages.

Impact of Trauma

Child abuse and exploitation result in complex and long-lasting trauma. Often, it is the trauma symptoms experienced by the victim that can alert a person to the fact that abuse has occurred. In addition, the research clearly states that children and youth will often turn to their peers to disclose abuse. Therefore, it is essential that the participants be provided with information on the impact of abuse and the related trauma symptoms. The module will also focus on the far reaching consequences of abuse, such as, its impact on families, communities and broader social structures.

Basic Techniques in Counseling

As the purpose of this course is to empower youth with the skills to provide peer support to victims of gender-based violence, it is essential to include a module on basic counseling techniques. The module focuses on providing the participants with listening skills, the ability to empathize with victims and problem management approaches to helping victims. These skills will also contribute to the participant’s personal growth.

Strategies for Change

The final module of the programme takes the form of a workshop, where the children are required to identify strategies that will contribute to change.


The train-the-trainer course is entitled 'Youth for Change' and is presented over a period of five (5) days. Each youth participant will be provided with a textbook, a training course file and training resources such as PowerPoint presentations and video footage.

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