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Researchers meet to discuss marginalized children issue and find sustainable interventions

By John Tharakan
The participants of the PAR training programme
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Hyderabad, Oct. 29. Participatory Action Researchers from six South Indian States gathered from 5-7 October for three day training programme. The researchers are all working with children at risk at 19 Don Bosco centres. The children, boys and girls, are eight to eighteen year olds. The programme was inaugurated by Dr. Diana Monteiro, the Director of Hyderabad Academy of Psychology and Counsellor at NALSAR Central Law University.
The  group of thirty researchers are working with the local Participatory Action Research(PAR) teams towards the lofty goal of getting the children to be able to manage their centres by being part of the decision making process at all levels.

The researchers shared their experiences and contributed to making the training process itself participatory. The tension between the academic dimensions involving regular documentation and reporting, and the daily joys of interaction with children with respect, and understanding them from their perspective, was clearly palpable the interactions.

The PAR process was initiated exactly 18 months back in March 2015. This process has been examined by the Assam Don Bosco University, Guwahati. They have awarded certificates to 16 researchers who have successfully completed one year of PAR.

Dr. George reddy, A Neuro-Psychiatrist and the Secretary of the Telangana State Association of Psychiatrists, guided the participants on understanding children with behavioural difficulties. He addressed the questions of each one and helped the participants to recognize difficulties children experienced beyond the routine problems of discipline. In this way the researchers could understand the children better and provide them with timely help and support. At the end of his session he distributed the ADBU Certificates to the successful candidates.

Earlier, Dr Diana Monteiro helped the researchers to look at the attachment needs of children and how they could understand them at their level. Addressing the needs of the researchers themselves, she discussed with them the importance of developing an attitude towards children that will help in ensuring a participatory process in their growth. She enabled them to share day to day anxieties in working with children and how they could understand themselves better vis-vis the children.
The participants themselves elaborated the implications of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 and the Model Rules 2016. One of the participants was a member of the Juvenile Justice Board and another the Chairperson of a District Child Welfare Committee.

What first appeared as a highly complex process in eight different steps that only Post Graduate students could master was finally demonstrated as a very simple and routine daily process. Ultimately what mattered was a PAR attitude of understanding the child from the child's own perspective. The researchers were constantly challenged to give up their accustomed attitudes of superiority, like the monkey in the story that would not let go of the nuts in the hand. Once this obstacle was cleared, the PAR process would make progress towards greater participation of children in decision making.

The participants also looked at the story ''The Emperor has no clothes.'' When we are ready to meet the child at their level, then we get into the children's wisdom that is free from prejudice that comes from a position of superiority and arrogance that could come from power. When the researcher is in touch with one's own vulnerable inner child, the child in the researcher can relate more easily to the children in the home with empathy. The researchers went home happy to ''ask the monkey'' if they were in any dilemma and to ''Listen to the Child'' to understand issues and find solutions.
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