Strengthening participatory practice with children and young people affected by sexual violence

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New university network: Children Challenging Sexual Violence

Posted: Wed May, 2019

Author: Delphine Peace

We are delighted to launch a new university network which supports the promotion of activities undertaken by universities around the world to challenge sexual violence against children, including curriculum development, teaching and research activities. The network, supported by the University of Bedfordshire, Oak Foundation and Tides Foundation, is part of the Our Voices programme of work.

What is the purpose of this network?

This university network aims to connect those working in universities to share learning, to enhance collaboration and to raise the profile of the work. In particular the network is aiming to encourage university engagement with participatory approaches that enable and support children to be co-determiners of research agendas, activities, and teaching and curriculum materials. 

This is important as it is often through universities that knowledge is generated and validated and where the teaching of the next generation of practitioners occurs. Universities are key, yet often understated, players in work to end sexual violence against children.

While we are keen for the network to focus on supporting and encouraging those working within universities to challenge sexual violence against children, we appreciate that this can often be seen as a narrow field and that such work can take place only through ‘one off’ temporary grants or initiatives rather than a committed long term strategy. Much of the work developed is undertaken in partnership with INGOs/NGOs and so we are keen to include this work where possible within the university network. We also appreciate that sexual violence is often addressed within generic approaches to violence against children. For these reasons we aim to include those working in universities challenging sexual violence against children or other forms of abuse. As the work develops and is further disseminated, we are keen to further prioritise activities focusing solely on sexual violence against children. In the longer term, we want to focus on university led strategic initiatives engaging participatory approaches with children and young people to prevent and respond to sexual violence against children. 

Initial findings from the network survey

In order to establish a knowledge base of who is doing what, where and how, we designed a brief survey to begin to map out academics and institutions working in this field. The survey has been out for three months and is still live. It can be accessed via this link: https://bedshealthsciences.eu....

Please complete the survey if you would like to be part of the network and we will be in touch. 

From this initial period (March to May 2019) 53 individuals in total responded, 41 of whom are affiliated to a university representing a total of 33 universities (some respondents were associated to the same university). The first three months results of the survey have been analysed within six groups as below. 

Group 1: Universities challenging sexual violence against children (SVAC)

Group 2: Universities challenging other forms of abuse against children / working on child protection and wellbeing 

Group 3: Universities using participatory approaches to work with children challenging SVAC or other forms of abuse 

Group 4: Postgraduate students researching SVAC or other forms of abuse

Group 5: INGOs/NGOs challenging SVAC

Group 6: Government-funded national research centres challenging SVAC

The profile of members who have so far consented to their contact details and biography being shared on the Our Voices website can be accessed here.

A briefing paper summarising findings from the survey can be found on the publications page under 'Research and consultation reports' or via this link: https://www.our-voices.org.uk/...

Join our first webinar

We will introduce this new project and share initial findings from this scoping in a webinar we will host in collaboration with the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children on  22 July 2019, 12pm London time. Please email delphine.peace@beds.ac.uk to reserve a place and she will send you the necessary link. 

Next steps 

While the survey remains live, we will:

  • Develop an interactive map and index on the Our Voices website containing details of specific activities related to challenging sexual violence against children that are run by universities. 
  • Conduct follow up interviews with key informants to explore some of the nuances of their work. 
  • Consult postgraduate students about how the network can be of particular use to them.  
  • Work with network members to develop a strategic framework for academic and learning institutions to adopt for their work on challenging sexual violence against children.

As the university network develops over the coming months we would love to hear from you. For any questions or suggestions please get in touch with delphine.peace@beds.ac.uk