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?What is happening at the center of social work unit of the Pooyesh Association

Violence is rampant in most families covered by the Pooyesh Association

“Masoumeh Khalili” is the head of the psychology and social work unit of the Pooyesh Child Friendly Association, who joined the association as a volunteer psychologist with experience in working with immigrants, and then took charge of the unit by establishing it. In this conversation, she talks about the challenges in the area where the association works, including addiction and cultural poverty of families, and also the activities of the unit under her supervision to deal with these cases. She also discusses the issue of domestic violence against women and children and its consequences in the region, and the solutions that have been implemented in the association to address it.

– To start the conversation, what challenges does the social work and psychology unit of the association face in the local community?

The most common problems in the region are poverty, addiction, illiteracy, as well as lack of communication and parenting skills in families. Since most of the families are people who have migrated to Iran recently, they are economically weak, and this causes the next problems to become domino effect. On the other hand, most families are illiterate and can’t help their children or they can’t read or study in this field, and they make the situation worse.

– What has been done to deal with the challenges you mentioned?

To address poverty, the association provides support packages for identified and low-income families. Every two months or once a month, the packages are given to them. Also, in order to create employment, empowerment and income for women in home jobs, we make the opportunity for mothers who want to work in the women’s employment unit of the association. In this regard, first the eligible families for support packages or employment are identified and then introduced to the employment and social work units of the association. Children with health problems are also identified by the psychology and social work unit and referred to the Health unit.

In the field of communication and parenting skills, we have continuously held communication skills, parenting and how to deal with unpleasant thoughts classes for both literate mothers of the association and for mothers of students.  Unfortunately, literate mothers’ classes were closed this year due to the pandemic, and we hope to be able to continue the workshops again as the situation gets better.

For the children, we focused on psychological training and holding weekly life skills workshops aimed at allowing children to communicate better with peer groups, friends, and other familiar and unfamiliar people. This year, the program focused more on recognizing emotions and excitements, as well as ways to control and manage those emotions. Another group of workshops were joint mother-child workshops. For example, in the summer we held these classes for preschool children and their mothers, which included educating parents and children both separately and together in a workshop. The programs added to our plan this year were psychological workshops for educators and teachers, which included management of emotions, anxiety management, relaxation, and a course on modern methods of encouragement and punishment.

– It seems that in the psychology and social work unit of the Association, many of workshops and activities for children are focused on parents and teachers. What led you to this point?

So far, our effort in the social work unit has been to make our actions comprehensive and inclusive. In fact, we wanted to create an integrated system to protect children’s mental health so that their education and communication would be more efficient. To support the child, we also covered his communication circle, like families and teachers.

– How is the cooperation of families in the activities of the psychology and social work unit?

Most of mothers have better participation and cooperation and fathers are often absent. This originated from the usual role and definition of the mother in this culture, as well as the fact that fathers are often busy and have less time. In order to involve fathers more, the association had programs for fathers’ literacy, which, due to what we have said, did not reach the extent of mothers’ literacy, but good things happened. The psychology and social work unit has also done some work on it, because the more fathers are present, the better the impact on the children.

In this regard, we have also designed creative programs, which unfortunately have not been implemented yet due to Corona, and that is holding family camps for children with their parents. Holding such camps brings more families together in a fun activity and also motivates fathers to participate in parenting.

– Tell us about your experiences with domestic violence in the area and what your actions are in this regard?

If we consider domestic violence in its expanded definition, which includes both verbal violence and emotional, psychological and physical violence, this violence exists in most of these families. But if we want to focus on the physical aspect of violence, this type of violence is seen in a number of families. Unfortunately, non-physical violence against children isn’t expressed. These abuses can include blame or negligence, and more importantly, child labor itself is an example of violence against children. To prevent and deal with violence against children, we focused more on educating parents.  In some cases, we should support the family to prevent child labor.  We face physical cases of violence against women in such a way that the women themselves tell us based on the trust that has been created and ask us for help. In this regard, our first effort is to create a safe environment where mothers can share these conversations with someone and express their repressed emotions. In the next step, we offer them solutions that include teaching them better ways to communicate with their spouses. In the next phase, if the individual requests, we will hold individual counseling sessions for her.

Most of the time we don’t pursue cases legally based on the desire of families themselves who don’t like legal cases due to cultural issues and their preference to resolve the issue within the family. Unfortunately for these women, this violence is accepted as a part of life and a part of men’s ethic. In these cases, we provide supportive and training space.

– Among the factors like addiction, economic and cultural poverty, which factor do you consider to be the cause of domestic violence?

Most of the mentioned factors are effective in producing domestic violence. Addiction gets a person to not perform responsibilities at home properly and it causes violence. In these cases, it is often the fathers who are addicted. For example, we had a family where the father was addicted and asked his children to provide him drugs, which was a clear example of domestic violence, and the only thing the mother could do to prevent this violence against her children was not let them to do and prepared it by herself.

Cultural poverty is a generator of domestic violence. Culture leads to violence by influencing people’s beliefs and values, and people in this culture expect a woman or child to easily accept the violence and have no reaction or defense. This culture values ​​this for a woman and labels her a patient woman. This culture also has the effect on men that they have the right to use violence and not to be ashamed of it. Violence is common for these men.

Economic poverty causes a person to stay away from up-to-date educational resources, and this cycle of violence is constantly repeated. Each person produces violence based on cultural and economic poverty, and the abused person becomes the perpetrator of violence at another time.

 Written by: Mehrave mosavi

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