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HIMAYA's 3rd Annual Symposium

With the increased allocation of resources in recent years, the child protection sector in Lebanon has been able to steadily increase the coverage and availability of its services.

Although civil societies are important, the protection of children from violence and danger can never become a reality with complete reliance on individual organizations. Rather, ensuring the comprehensive protection of children is the responsibility of whole communities requiring collaboration between multiple parties including parents, professionals, organizations and government. In this sense, protecting children is a responsibility of society as a whole.

While the child protection network shows promising growth, multiple challenges remain. The aim of this year’s symposium is to highlight existing and emerging challenges hindering the comprehensive protection of children in Lebanon.

Each panel, outlined below, will bring together different stakeholders in the child protection network to identify difficulties and suggest context-specific solutions to common issues faced in the field.

PROGRAM:

FRIDAY OCTOBER 20th: PANELS

8h30-9h: Reception and registration

9h-9h30: Opening message and introduction of the day

9h30-1045h: Residential and alternative care systems in Lebanon

In Lebanon, as per law 422, the Juvenile judge can choose to protect at-risk children by placing them in a residential center. However, these centers don’t always manage to respond effectively to the physical and psychological needs of children. Current trends show an evolution towards promoting alternative care systems such as kinship or foster care. While there are entry points in law 422 that could allow for the implementation of alternative care systems, there are many bottlenecks as well, often related to religious beliefs and culture in Lebanon. How can we find suitable alternative care modalities that are adapted to the Lebanese context ?

● Judicial framework of child protection - challenges with measures for protection and possible alternatives
● Residential care in Lebanon
● Alternative care systems in Lebanon
● From alternative care to the importance of prevention: the “Isibindi” model

10h45-11h15: Coffee break

11h15-12h30: Children, institutions and sexuality

There is a culture of silence surrounding sexuality in Lebanon creating obstacles for the detection and prevention of child sexual abuse. Sexuality is rarely discussed with young people as it is most often considered taboo in their families, religious and educational institutions. This leads to young people having little information and guidance on healthy and acceptable sexual relationships. Ideally, sexuall education should be made available to equip young people with the skills, knowledge and values to make responsible choices about their sexual and social relationships. Also, community members in contact with children such as parents, teachers and other institutions should be able to discuss sexuality as a whole, including sexual violence, and offer guidance on how to protect oneself. The aim of this panel is to work towards facilitating the discussion around sexuality and highlighting its need for young people.

● The role of religious organisations and institutions in child protection
● The question of sexual education in Lebanon
● Integrating a sexual education program in schools

12h30-13h30: Lunch break

13h30-14h45: Emerging issues in child protection

As society and technology evolve, professionals in the child protection sector are facing new and re-emerging challenges that require more specialized interventions. One of these issues is that of children with special needs, a particularly vulnerable population that isn’t always receiving enough attention and support. On another hand, with the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, children have unrestricted access to content of all kinds. This creates new opportunities, but also exposes children to potential dangers such as cyberbulling and cybercrime that are on the rise. Finally, while child exploitation is not a new issue, the influx of refugees and the precariousness of their living situation, has lead to a significant increase in exploitation rates. Keeping in mind the particularities of our context and culture, how can we develop adapted and effective strategies for these different issues?

● Child protection and children with special needs
● Protection challenges for unaccompanied and separated children
● Cyberbullying and cybercrimes: role of the cybercrime unit

14h45-15h: Break

15h00-16h15: Towards a “resilient” child protection network

The child protection sector is a network of institutions and organizations working with the common goal of promoting the wellbeing and safety of children. In order to ensure long term protection for children, the sector should strive to be not only sustainable but also resilient. This means that implementation strategies should be adaptable to overcome context-specific challenges. One way to reach this goal is to link with other sectors that also work for the wellbeing of children such as the health sector. Buy-in from society as a whole regarding the issue of child protection must also be an objective for those involved. All the while, we should not forget that at the center of all these efforts are the children themselves. They are not only beneficiaries of our services but should be made active participants in their own protection.

● Implementing a Child Protection Policy for healthcare institutions in Lebanon
● Involving citizens in Child Protection
● Child agency: Children’s active participation in protection efforts

16h15-17h: Conclusion




Saturday OCTOBER 21th: WORKSHOPS

9h-9h30: Registration
9h30-11h15: First series of workshops
1. Residential centers in Lebanon : towards best practices
This workshop will unite stakeholders in an open discussion around the subject of residential centers in Lebanon. The panel will discuss local challenges, best practices and recommendations.

2. Parental guidance and sexual education
Parents often have difficulty communicating with their children about matters related to sexuality. Nevertheless, positive communication between parents and children greatly helps young people to establish individual values and to make healthy decisions. How should parents discuss sex and sexuality with their children?

3. The Isibindi model: a community based intervention
The National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) developed the Isibindi program in response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in South Africa. The word ‘Isibindi’ is isiZulu for ‘courage’. The program is a community-based intervention that provides prevention and early intervention care for children in poor communities where few services previously were available. This workshop will address how this model can be adapted in Lebanon,

11h15-11h30: Break

11h30-13h: Second series of workshops
1. Towards developing alternative care systems in Lebanon
In this workshop, a situation analysis of the Lebanese context regarding alternative care measures will be presented focusing on its specificities. International standards and their adaptation to the local context will be discussed.

2. Exploring the perception of sexuality and sex education in Lebanon
This workshop will address the question of sexual education in Lebanon taking into consideration societal taboos and religious dogma. Through an interactive exchange with the public, positives and negatives of each position will be explored to determine what is in the best interest of children.

3. Discrimination and emotional lives of displaced youth

The aim of this workshop is to take a fuller measure of the emotions and challenges associated with experiences of discrimination. The presenters will draw on sociological insights, recent academic debates and their current research in Beirut to offer ways for exploring how displaced youth experience discrimination, racialized bullying and micro-aggressions, both in schools and in their daily lives. The findings and methods discussed will offer new ideas or tools that workshop participants might find useful when engaging with displaced youth, organizations or policymakers.


13h-14h: Lunch

14h-15h30: Third series of workshops

1. The role of religious institutions: Dialogue with religious figures about child protection
This workshop will bring together religious leaders from various confessions to discuss openly and publicly the roles and responsibilities of religious organisations and institutions in child protection.

2. Children with special needs : policy and interventions
Children with special needs are often at greater risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation than other children. Child protection systems should focus on the inclusion of this group of children, and their caregivers as well as address social attitudes and perceptions. Efforts should be done at both the prevention and intervention levels. How can we develop intervention strategies and policies that are adapted to children with special needs?
3. Cybercrime unit: how to protect children online
In this workshop, the ISF’s Cybercrime unit will give recommendations and guidelines on how to protect children from cybercrimes, and will illustrate their intervention through case studies

15h-16h: Closing

REGISTRATION INFORMATION:
Phone: 79 - 30 10 52 OR 76 - 45 19 47
Email: annualsymposium@himaya.org

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