Adapting a Violence-Prevention Curriculum to the Haitian Setting: Insights from Focus Group Discussions
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Author(s): Gage AJ, Honoré JG, Deleon J
This report presents qualitative data from focus group discussions held with 10th-12th grade students and teachers in a private high school in Port-au-Prince about how to adapt a violence-prevention curriculum to the Haitian context. The study pointed to some needed changes in order to improve the usefulness of the curriculum in the Haitian setting. Participants pointed out that the social context of adolescent relationships in Haiti is differerent from that in the United States. Adolescent dating relationships based on economic considerations, transactional sex and security concerns and those involving children and adults, some of whom are employers, are increasingly common in Haiti but are not covered by the Curriculum. In particular, same-sex relationships were not addressed inspite of their increased visibility in society. Participants were unamimous in their preference for administering the curriculum to boys and girls separately, using teachers of the same sex as the students. Students suggested that the curriculum should integrate information on abstinence, sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS while the teachers felt that the curriculum could be improved by incorporating information on drugs, alcohol, and acculturation. Teachers expressed a need for parent education on violence prevention and for schools to work hand-in-hand with churches and the community to help parents talk to their children about safe and healthy relationships. There was consensus among teachers that the violence-prevention intervention began too late for 10th to 12th graders and that the curriculum should be administered to earlier grades as well. It was also felt that the use of audiovisual and media technology would improve the reach of the Curriculum and enhance students’ understanding. Some teachers suggested that schools should assign a specific course on and appoint a designated instructor for violence prevention while others proposed that teachers should take the opportunity to educate students on violence prevention before teaching existing courses. The study revealed few perceived implementation challenges, the most notable being teachers’ own need for training, the availability of an adequate number of copies of the Curriculum for teachers and handouts for students, safety and security concerns due to possible retaliation from adult perpetrators, student application of violence-prevention principles in their daily lives, and follow-up to find out the extent to which students were applying knowledge and skills learned. Finally, participants considered the focus on high school students to be too narrow and expressed a need for all segments of Haitian society to be educated on relationship violence prevention.
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