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Protection Starts HereDarkness to Light
Seal of ProtectionHIV & AIDS Awareness and Education
Unspeakable Documentary

 



Protection Starts Here

In 2012 the Cayman Islands Red Cross embarked on a project aimed at raising awareness of child sexual abuse in the Cayman Islands. Working in partnership with the Cayman Story Company, Health Services Authority, Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the Family Resource Centre, the Employee Assistance Programme, the Ministry of Education and the Department of Children and Family Services, the aim of this project was to floodlight this issue as of national importance, warranting a national response.

The “Protection starts here” project has produced seven public service announcement (PSAs), which have been disseminated through local television, at the movie theatre, via the CIRC website and social media pages, as well as through the CIRC’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/CIRedCrossTV. The project has also seen the development of a DVD tool, aimed to educate the local population on the context of sexual abuse in the Cayman Islands, as well as give additional in-depth information to those who need it, but who may be unaware of the training opportunities locally or may be unable to attend.

Seal of Protection

With the lack of national standards in the Cayman Islands for youth serving organizations, our younger population are more vulnerable to harm by dangerous perpetrators. Addressing the lack of resources, policies, and preventative measures against child sexual abuse, the Seal of Protection Initiative (SoP) strives to keep our youth safe through community-wide education.

SoP, a multi-agency grassroots effort, aims to establish minimum standards for all youth-serving organizations in the Cayman Islands. By targeting parents and guardians, SoP recognizes organizations that have taken the steps to comply with basic standards for child protection and safety. The Seal of Protection is not a guarantee or endorsement of services.

Learn more about the SoP minimum standards and read about the effort here.

Unspeakable Documentary

The “Protection Starts Here” child sexual abuse awareness and education project presents this 2014 educational documentary as part of an effort to put the issue of child sexual abuse within the Cayman context. This “edu-mentary” is a part of an awareness and DVD tool aimed at giving adults in the community an audio/visual reference and more in depth information on the issues. Available on this channel on June 20, 2014. For more information, contact deputy@redcross.org.ky.

Darkness to Light

Training sessions

The two-and-a-half-hour sessions outline five steps to protect children, through a video, workbook and group discussion.

The program exposes little-known facts about child sexual abuse. For example, 90 percent of children who are abused know their abusers, and 30 percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members. Forty percent of children are abused by older or more powerful children.

Five steps

Learning such facts is the first step in protecting children from sexual abuse, according to the training program.

Step two is to minimize the opportunity for abuse to occur by eliminating or reducing isolated, one-on-one situations to decrease risk for abuse.

The third step, one that can sometimes be difficult for parents, is to have open conversations with children about bodies, sex and boundaries. The training program teaches that children should be equipped with the proper vocabulary for their body parts – not euphemisms. According to the training, parents should also teach children about sex early, around the age of eight.

Children should be taught about touching boundaries, and to trust their gut feelings about when a touch is inappropriate, and that if someone asks them to keep a secret, that should be a red flag.

The fourth step teaches adults about the signs of sexual abuse, which are often not necessarily physically apparent.

The fifth step addresses reacting responsibly. This section teaches adults how to respond to risky behaviors and suspicions about or reports of sexual abuse.

By providing knowledge and a detailed framework of how to respond to sexual abuse, adults who complete the training emerge feeling more conscious and empowered.

Pre-school teacher Grace Langley, who attended a Darkness to Light training session this week, said the program was “excellent.” ”I think I’m more conscious of the need for us to be more alert, especially when we see changes in children’s behavior,” Ms. Langley said.

To register for a training session at the Red Cross, email vrm@redcross.org.ky.

HIV & AIDS Awareness and Education

Free HIV testing

The Public Health Department in conjunction with the CIRC offers HIV testing every Tuesday from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on the 2nd floor of the CIRC Headquarters on Huldah avenue. The testing is free, open to all, and can also be used for submission for work permit purposes.

Peer Education

Peer Education In October 2002 the CIRC joined other regional Red Cross Societies and Branches in the fight against the spread of HIV & AIDS in the Caribbean by launching the” Together We Can” HIV& AIDS Peer Education Programme.

Developed by the Jamaican and American Red Cross Societies in conjunction with the World Health Organization, TWC is a programme that empowers young people with the correct information about HIV & AIDS and gives them the responsibility to pass that information on to their peers. Young persons between the ages of 13 and 18 undergo an intensive three-day training where they get to discuss not only the basics of HIV & AIDS transmission, but also testing, negotiation skills, stigma and discrimination, and condom use.

The CIRC offers both the peer education training as well as customised sexuality education programmes for youth of all ages. For more information, contact deputy@redcross.org.ky.

Social Marketing Campaigns

In 2003 the CIRC created the “None but ourselves can free our minds” poster, using local persons to bring home the importance of fighting stigma and discrimination.

Two years later, in 2005, it launched the Federation’s “Nobody has the truth written on their face. Protect Yourself. Wear a Condom.” (“Faces”) campaign, making the CIRC the first Red Cross Society in the Caribbean to launch the campaign. Having received support from such partners as the Cayman Islands Government, Digicel, and Horizon Magazine, the CIRC set the tone for the running of the “Faces” campaign in the Caribbean.

In 2007, with enthusiastic support from Peer Educators and other volunteers involved in the programme, the CIRC launched its “HIV+… until proven negative. Get tested.” t-shirts. The shirts were a local and international hit, and the campaign was highlighted as an example of a best practice in a Regional Youth Forum held in Guyana in August 2008.

In 2009, the CIRC partnered with photographer Chuck Bishop and Martha Connolly of “Say Wha?” Designs and created the “Save Sex” campaign. Eleven community partners joined the CIRC in disseminating the main message which aimed to challenge the taboo of talking openly about sex and sexuality.

In 2011, the CIRC launched the « Kiss Me, Squeeze Me, Hold My Hand: You can’t contract HIV through casual contact » campaign aimed at educating younger youths (ages 7-13) the basic facts of HIV transmission.

Community, Corporate and Volunteer Awareness Sessions

Community and corporate awareness sessions are also offered for those persons who want to learn more about HIV and AIDS. These meetings are targeted at specific audiences but cover the main points as listed above. Awareness sessions can be held both at the Red Cross as well as community halls and business places.

Persons needing information on any of the HIV and AIDS related training and awareness activities, including Corporate Awareness sessions and access to the Child Sexual Abuse DVD tool, should contact the Deputy Director directly on deputy@redcross.org.ky.

Gender and sexuality education

The CIRC offers a 2 hour educational session on gender and sexuality for youth as well as adults.  Both sessions focus on breaking down the concept of sexuality and gender, how each affects the other, as well as examining the messages that are sent via family, school, and the media, and how they impact the dynamics between males, females and the opposite sex. 

The youth presentation is geared towards understanding more of choices and consequences based on these external forces, and the adult presentation is focused more on the notions of gender equality and in settings with parents, how to use this information to counter negative messages being sent to youth.

HIV & AIDS Awareness session

All CIRC volunteers are required the take the HIV & AIDS Awareness session, held quarterly every year. The main goals behind these sessions are to:

1- inform the volunteers on the basics of HIV and AIDS, including the way the virus works, how transmission occurs, how it can be avoided, the importance of testing, and the issues of stigma and discrimination,

2- ensure that the volunteers understand the reason why the Red Cross Movement has taken on this issue,

3- explain the particular vulnerability that comes with being HIV positive, or living with AIDS, in our community, the Caribbean and the world, and

4- to highlight the fact that as volunteers they will likely come into contact with persons living with and affected by HIV and AIDS, they may not know this and therefore need to be mindful of their own attitudes and behaviours so as to ensure that the service they provide is not compromised.