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Legal Awareness Programme – Brainstorming Session with Children

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YCK Brainstorming

YCK children identifying pictures with emotions

by Joti Kohli

As our friends and supporters you know VoC is working on a Legal Awareness programme for children.  We wrote about the successful session with a group of experts on developing the content for the programme and have now conducted a session with the children to get their input.

We are grateful to Yayasan Chow Kit (YCK) for opening their doors for us to do this session with the children at YCK and helping us with interpretation in Bahasa. We had a good mix of children at this session; Malaysian/non-Malaysian and of both sexes between the ages of 12-17.

The session started with an icebreaker, followed by an activity to ensure children are familiar with a few words that will help them express their emotions.  The main activity was story-telling where they were given the first sentence of the story to develop and complete it in their groups.  Each group member had to add a sentence to develop the story and had to remember their sentences to present the full story orally to the whole group.

After the storytelling we continued with a group discussion.  Much to our surprise, some the children were very aware of issues pertaining to children and justice.  We directed the discussion from arrest and police station to court and detention experiences.  Here are some of the things they shared, in their own words:

On arrest

  • Right to remain silent
  • What did I do wrong
  • What the police can and cannot do
  • The police needs to get facts right before arresting someone
  • Do they need to ask for money before they let you go?

Police station

  • I have a right to a phone call
  • I have a right to call my lawyer
  • To the person who got arrested it is a lesson for the wrong they did
  • I have the right to be separate from other criminals

Court

  • Intense
  • Scared – because of getting punishment if done something wrong
  • Scared – because parents got divorced so she found it very quiet and if you make noise the judge will knock the gavel.
  • The judge is very angry
  • The judge is corrupted – you can bribe the judge
  • You can be confused
  • It is unfair – because sometimes the sentence is not fair.  You might do something small but the sentence is really big.  (How do you know I ask)  I heard about it and read about it.
  • There was a minister who stole
  •  millions of Ringgits and gets a few years in prison.  A child stole RM2 from a mosque because he was hungry and gets many years in prison.
  • The judge takes a long time to make a decision.  It takes him months.  It happens because they need to think over and over and make the decision carefully.

Prisons or homes

  • You do something wrong and you go inside and you get even more bad because you mix around with a worse crowd.
  • They have to prove before they sentence.
  • Kids get abused by the wardens and people working in these places – they make you do bad things, you have to be the servant of them, they can beat you. (where did you hear these stories I ask)  From my brother.

When children come out of prisons

  • Family doesn’t receive them and they come useless in life
  • They are ostracised and go through a lot of shit
  • They become worse off and become more bad
  • They are depressed
  • They are young and go in and become gangsters, when they come out they become policemen.
  • He has the capacity to change but people don’t believe him that he can change.
  • Before he goes in he is trusted by many people but when he comes out nobody trust him.
  • Difficult to get  a job

The session provided good insights to strengthen the content for the legal awareness programme.  For the programme we have identified six modules and have started work on the study materials.  We aim to finish this work by mid-January 2015 and conduct two pilots by the end of February 2015.

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