Devcoms: [#SafeSpaces4Youths] Importantance of Safe Spaces, Designation & Continuity – #Lagos4Lpay

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Why are Safe Spaces Important?

In many places around the world Children & Youths lack safe and accessible public places.  Social isolation tends to be more severe for young women in many contexts. Once they reach puberty, girls are increasingly confined to the domestic sphere. Concerns about their safety and social norms that govern their mobility contribute to this isolation. Boys and young men may have greater access to public spheres, but they may congregate in unsupervised or unsafe spaces that encourage risky behaviors.

Safe spaces can facilitate social, emotional and cognitive development for young people. Safe spaces increase protective factors (e.g. having access to a mentor, an expanded network of friends, new skills and knowledge) and decrease risk factors (e.g. social isolation, exposure to violence, etc.) that Children & Youths experience in their daily lives. Safe spaces may be particularly important in fragile and conflict settings to improve healing and minimize trauma. These spaces provide a sanctuary for Children & Youths to explore their feelings, share experiences, engage creatively and build essential and empowering life skills.

Devcoms, #SafeSpaces4Youths, Important ,Safe Spaces, Designation ,Lagos4LpayHow Should Safe Spaces be Designated?

Safe places can be established in formal (e.g. classrooms, training centers, religious buildings, community centers, etc.) or informal settings (homes, outdoors, etc.). These spaces may be public spaces that are free of cost, spaces that are donated by the community, constructed by the project, or rented with project resources. The important factor in creating safe spaces is that it serves as a place where Children & Youths are able to freely express their experiences in an environment that is safe, healing and supportive. When choosing safe spaces for Children & Youths, the criteria for making it safe are more important than the physical attributes of the space.

Building a Safe place or environment For younger children, many of these same practices apply, but staff might focus on individual children’s experiences and emotions.

Safe Spaces should be:

  • Conveniently located and accessible to the youth.
  • Safe from physical, sexual and emotional threat.
  • Secure, private and allows Children & Youths the opportunity to share confidentially.
  • Culturally appropriate and acceptable to parents/caretakers and key decision-makers in the community.

The process of selecting a safe space should be community-based and consultative. When the community is engaged and supportive, they can serve as advocates for the project, support the maintenance and supervision of the space, and encourage Children & Youths to attend. In addition to consulting with the community, it is important to consult directly with youth to understand their constraints and preferences. It may be appropriate to hold youth and community consultations separately so that young people can freely voice their preferences and concerns.

Consultations (community meetings or focus group discussions) should educate youth and community members on the purpose of the safe space and clarify what activities will be held. This will prevent backlash and disuade suspicions. The concept of a safe space might be foreign and the project may need to make a case to the community on why such a space is important for young people, and particularly for girls. Both the youth and the community stakeholders should be involved in choosing the physical space, as well as in setting the ground rules for the space (rules on who has access, appropriate activities to be held in the space, hours of operation, community oversight, etc.).

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1. Ground rules

The right to be heard: “It’s really deepening the sense of empathies by having people not interrupted … and not challenged when they speak. The girls learn this extraordinary capacity to tolerate taking in other people’s point of view, and deal with what they feel in response to what somebody is saying, but being able to metabolize that emotion instead of what happens in normal social discourses: the back and forth, the interrupting and the distractions.” – Jennifer Freed, AHA!, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Respect: “They can’t use language that is going to be hurtful to others. There are appropriate boundaries put in place where youth are able to share their emotions but also learn that there’s a way to do that so that you’re not unintentionally hurting others.” – Beth Chandler, YWCA Boston
Confidentiality: “What goes on in whatever the program is, stays in whatever the program is … . It’s a huge dynamic. Particularly with social media, sometimes kids get excited and they want to share, and they don’t realize sharing something was great for them, [but] it might not have been great for the person in the group or somebody else that was impacted by it.” – Natalie Cooper, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee

ALSO READ/ENJOY  Devcoms: What You need to Know about #SafeSpaces4Youths and its urgent need - #Lagos4Lpay

Also READ Part 1: Devcoms: What You need to Know about #SafeSpaces4Youths and its urgent need – #Lagos4Lpay



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