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Caterpillar in a Jar - Raising Awareness on Dating Violence

Type of tool: 
Activity
Duration: 
90-120 min
Topics addressed: 
Gender issues
Personal development

An activity tool for learning and raising awareness on domestic violence and dating violence, with an empowering message for personal development and growth in the knowledge that we all deserve to be loved and to be safe in our relationships.

Aim: 

The tool is used to engage groups of young people in discussion on domestic violence, dating violence and what it could be like for a young person to be embroiled in such a situation. It is an awareness raising tool youth leaders, youth workers, teachers, guidance teachers, drama teachers/ coaches, therapists and other practitioners and trainers.

Methodology: 

Cooperative learning, drama and simulation

Step by step process: 

The tool can be used as a stand-alone activity, as part of a larger programme on personal development topics or as a dramatic-simulation exercise.
In the smaller group context, the aim is to share a story of a young girl who experiences domestic and dating violence, and to create discussion surrounding elements of the story, therefore using the story and a fictitious experience to discuss a highly sensitive topic. With a larger group, the story may be acted out by one group while being read out by a story-teller. Afterwards, the participants can be split into groups of 8-15 persons to discuss and give a presentation on each segment of the book.

The Story – Caterpillar in a Jar
A short story was written, (based on real experiences and research) about a girl named Jenna, who lives in a home where domestic violence occurs. There are 4 segments in the story and with each segment, Jenna has grown 3 more years. When she is 15, she is dating a boy who also shows traits of jealousy, possessiveness and control. The book ends on a positive note whereby Jenna makes the important connection between domestic violence and dating violence and ends the abusive relationship, stating that she deserves to be loved, to be respected and to be safe. The book will be available for downloading in e-book format in 2016.

Method:
(Materials needed are in bold)
Small group of 4-8
1. Divide your group into pairs.
2. Provide each pair with a Caterpillar in a Jar story.
3. Each pair will take turns reading a part of the story.
At the end of the story, give a set of the questions/ statements (provided with the toolkit) to each pair respectively. The questions are there to provoke deeper thought, prompt ideas, challenge attitudes etc.
(For example)
• Why have they packed their clothes in bin liners and not suitcases?
• Task: Close your eyes and think of 3 things you would pack from your bedroom if you had to leave your home very quickly. Write them down.
• What should the bystanders have done when Julian began shouting at Jenna?

4. Allocate each group 5 – 10 minutes to prepare a presentation on what hit them the most about the segment that they read. Provide each group with a large white sheet/ cardboard, markers, pens, glue, scissors and magazines.
5. Ask each pair to give a presentation about their segment. Allow for questions, discussion and the ‘unpacking’ of the sensitive elements in the story.
6. Highlight the places one can seek help, such as the national helpline.
7. Give out the bookmarks and explain the Dating Violence Checklist at the back.

Larger Groups

1. Divide group into 5 groups of 4 to 8 participants, or two groups of 4 to 8 participants.
2. One group will be acting out the story while a story-teller reads from the book Caterpillar in a Jar. Allocate 10 minutes to the group that will be acting out the story to read it and prepare themselves. You may want to provide some resources and props (like hats, scarved, school bag, chair, table, cardboard and markers) for them to use. They must pick a story-teller from the group and assign roles for each other to re-enact the story as it is being read.
3. In those 10 minutes, use your favourite ice-breakers/ games with the rest of the participants.
4. When the acting group return, one of them must read from the book, while the others act out the story in tandem with the story-teller.
5. The remaining group/s will watch the first group.
6. At the end of the story, the remaining group/s is handed a question/statement pack (provided with toolkit) to provoke deeper thought, prompt ideas, challenge attitudes etc.
(For example)
 Why have they packed their clothes in bin liners and not suitcases?
 Task: Close your eyes and think of 3 things you would pack from your bedroom if you had to leave your home very quickly. Write them down.
 What should the bystanders have done?

7. Allocate each group 10- 15 minutes to prepare a presentation on what hit them the most in the story. Provide each group with a large white sheet/ cardboard, markers, pens, glue, scissors and magazines.
8. Ask each group to give a presentation (approx. 10 minutes) about their segment. Allow for questions, discussion and the ‘unpacking’ of the sensitive elements in the story at the end of each presentation.
9. Draw the discussion to a close by highlighting the places one can seek help, such as the national helpline and services of the local community.
10. Give out the bookmarks (downloadable templates) and explain the Dating Violence Checklist at the back.

Materials and resources: 

For small groups:
4 Caterpillar in a Jar books (shipping available by request), Pack of questions (cut and laminated), 8 bookmarks (cut and laminated)
4 white cardboard sheets, set of markers colours, 4 glue, 4 scissors, 3 magazines per group

For large groups:
1 Caterpillar in a Jar book (Shipping available by request), Discussion prompts/ questions (downloadable), 8 laminated Caterpillar bookmarks (Downloadable template)
Drama resources: box of old clothes ex: hats, scarves, tops, dress etc.. school bag, chair, table, cardboard and markers, and other props, like chair, Table, Christmas decorations, plates, cups.
For presentation: 5 white cardboard sheets, set of markers colours, 5 glue, 5 scissors, 3 magazines per group

Outcomes: 

The expected outcome is that the activity would have provoked a healthy discussion about relationships, that participants would have shared knowledge on examples of types of abuse and thoughts on signs to look out for in possibly abusive relationships and knowledge of where young people can get help.

Evaluation: 

We have used the tool before with good results. Many times, when the session is over, we are approached by participants who either need help or want to share the sudden realisation that a past relationship (or that of someone they know) had been in fact abusive.

The limit of the tool is that the story does not represent all types of intimate relationships and people; Jenna is illustrated as a Caucasian girl and her mother and her own relationships are heterosexual. It is up to the facilitator to point out that violence knows no ethnicity or race and runs across all types of intimate relationships.
Sometimes, the level of English is difficult for the younger participants, in the Maltese setting. However, this provides an opportunity for learning new words and widening vocabulary.
The illustrations in the book have been met with approval from young and not so young readers.

Potentially, the story could be translated to other languages. Currently, it is available in English and Maltese.

Notes for further use: 

Important tip for facilitators:

If you are not already familiar with the subject of dating violence and domestic violence, consult an agency, service or women's refuge/ shelter that can give you important information on the subject, on the relative law and the services available to youths in your community. Some notes are available on the topic with the pack, but where in doubt, consult an agency.

Other tips for facilitators, possible variations and adaptations are included above.

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DISCLAIMER: SALTO-YOUTH EuroMed cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO-YOUTH EuroMed should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.

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