A Philippine Human Rights NGO providing Psychosocial Services and Rehabilitation to Internally Displaced Persons and Survivors of Torture and Organized Violence.

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Balay partners with Bahay Pag-Asa in Malabon and Navotas to promote humane treatment of children in conflict with the law

Social workers and staff who manage facilities for child offenders participated in  psycho-education activities to promote their well-being and dissuade them from resorting to ill-treatment and cruel or degrading form of punishment as a way to discipline their clients.

The activities were attended separately by personnel from the Bahay Pag-Asa (“House of Hope”)  juvenile centers under the auspices of the local government in Malabon and Navotas in May and in June 2019.

According to Lisa Ugay, project manager of Balay Rehabilitation Center which organized the training, care providers who interact with children in conflict with the law are vulnerable to work-related stress and  burnout. The training was particularly designed to promote their self-care and sustain a relationship with their clients that is protective and respectful of the human rights of  children deprived of liberty.    

“Those who work in juvenile centers, notably the house parents and social workers, are constantly exposed to narratives of violence, neglect, abuse, and exploitation of so-called children in conflict with the law,” Ugay said. “This may take its toll on their psychological, emotional and physical well-being which, if left unchecked, may negatively affect their attitude and behavior towards their clients,” she added.

Among the topics discussed in the training are basic concepts on stress and trauma, their signs and how to detect them, and how to improve one’s coping abilities and resources in times of adversities.

According to Ugay, more minors are bound to end up in juvenile facilities as more children are now at risk of being apprehended by authorities following the aggressive campaign of the government to clear the streets of children who may have exploited, manipulated, or compelled to participate in criminal activities. She added that many of those children have been victims of neglect and abuse; some of whom may have even experienced some forms of violence and cruel treatment before they were turned over to the children’s facilities.

“It is imperative for social workers and staff to be ready to uphold the best interest of children held in their facilities,” Ugay said. She pointed out that protecting themselves from distress as they manage children in crisis situations is a way to promote humane treatment of children deprived of their liberty.