Last updated 11 months ago
Happy and Sad Boxes (H&S boxes) are an approach established in schools to offer children an opportunity to communicate and share their thoughts and feelings whether happy or sad. In our African cultural setting, children may not necessarily be open to tell adults why they are sad, but with the H&S boxes they can easily note down what causes their sadness and what makes them happy which helps us understand them better and how they want to be treated. They are a new and innovative way of securing child protection.
Information is collected from these boxes after children are educated on their rights, responsibilities, examples of child rights abuse & violations and how to identify them. The school receives a H&S box and the children fill out forms based on what they face individually or what their peers in or out of school face in their families, schools and communities. They indicate the names, location and other information for follow-up if necessary.
The forms are sorted out and categorized into minor and major cases. The major cases are handed over to the Police Gender and Children desk (PGCD) who conduct investigations in collaboration with the community policing unit, social welfare officers and other community child protection structures to assure legal action and protection.
This system ensures child rights and protection issues in the community are available, can be traced, followed-up and acted upon. It has created a close-knit system of relationships which protects children, improves dialogue between parents and teachers and students, and coordinates support and action between all child protection institutions in the community.
One thing is certain, H&S boxes give an unmatched level of freedom for children to express how they feel without fear of reproach. It is a tool that if applied correctly and consistently can help build confidence in children and encourage them to speak out on issues they find concerning. It could also educate us on how to treat children on their own terms and holistically understand their emotions.
This story was compiled by H&S Boxes project team and written by C-Sema’s Media Team.