For the first time, dozens of teachers from Gagauz-Yeri region of Moldova have been trained how to react when they spot incidents of violence in the families of children enrolled at the respective kindergartens. The teachers learned to respond right away when they detect signs of danger and to refer the cases to the authorities that will engage in solving them. The action is part of the project “Addressing violence against women in the Republic of Moldova: exploring and learning from local solutions”, implemented by UNDP with the support of the Republic of Korea.

The village of Chirsova, a multiethnic community in Gagauz region, has two kindergartens covering approximately 400 children, most of whom are ethnic Bulgarians and Gagauz. Until now, none of those over 20 teachers working there have received any raining in prevention of violence.

“Some kids come to kindergarten with bruises”

Ecaterina Arabadji has been working in the kindergarten for more than 30 years. Over the years, like other fellow teachers, she has identified several families in which abuse, and violence happen. “A teacher is among the first to realize that there is a problem in a family. Some kids come to kindergarten with bruises, others tell us very sincerely that Dad beats Mom or that their parents are always quarreling. There are also those who withdraw into their shell and refuse to talk to anyone,” the teacher says.

Ecaterina Arabadji and her fellow teachers discuss the response plan to violence.

The teacher acknowledges that until recently she did not have a clear solution to such situations. “Sometimes we did not know how to react the right way. On the one hand, we were afraid that if we had talked to the parents, the children would have suffered. And on the other hand, we could not ignore those situations. So, we would just address the issue at our parent-teacher meetings or report the cases to the Mayor’s Office.”

Since September 2018, the institution keeps a register of violence cases, and the teachers have been trained to detect the signs of danger in a child's behavior.

All the kindergartens in Gagauzia region have now information boards about domestic violence.
Ana Fucidji has taught five generations of children at one of the kindergartens of Chirsova.

Kindergarten’s principal Natalia Radova says that those trainings were especially useful for the young teachers recently employed by the institution straight from the university. She explains that the trainings also instructed the teachers how to react when parents show aggression right in the premises of the educational institution.

“The teacher no longer has to talk and re-educate or persuade the parents. We just record the case and refer it to the multidisciplinary commission that intervenes and examines each individual situation,” notes the principal.

“A teacher can tell whether a family has a problem from the way children play”

The teacher Ana Fucidji has taught five generations of kindergarteners. She says that she has never received anti-violence training in her 19-years work record.

She explains that, from the way children play at kindergarten, a teacher can immediately recognize the families where beatings or cursing are common. “Especially very young kids have a lot of trust in their teachers, whom they treat as very close people. If a child experiences an episode of physical or verbal violence, the teacher will know this the very next day, from the child's words. Things are somewhat different with pre-school kids. They tend not to talk so openly about family problems,” the teacher says.

Although models learned at home are hard to counteract, the teachers say that the training has helped them to understand that they have an extremely important role in the recording and referral of cases of violence. “We now understand that our involvement directly impacts the solving of serious social issues. We want every kid to grow in a safe environment,” Ana Fucidji says. 

The teachers from Chirsova want every child to live without violence.

“The teachers act as a key linkage in the prevention of violence, due to their daily contact with young children. Following the trainings, the teachers now have a clear and effective violence reporting mechanism,” says Vitalie Frecauteanu, project coordinator at UNDP Moldova.

The training benefited over 20 teachers. Similar trainings were offered to approximately 40 social workers in the region and to members of the multidisciplinary teams.

The project “Addressing violence against women in the Republic of Moldova: exploring and learning from local solutions” helps to set up violence prevention mechanisms and support services for victims of gender-based violence in Gagauzia region. The women from the region will be able to access counselling services of psychologists, social workers and legal professionals. Also, they will benefit from assistance in finding a job or starting a business.

The pilot program is carried out in Chirsova, a locality with 6,298 residents, of whom 3,235 are women. In addition to the victims of gender violence, the future services will be accessible to all women from the neighboring localities, whose number reaches 20,000.

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