Purpose of this Toolkit

The Toolkit aims to help equip faith actors to engage actively in the protection of children from violence in early childhood and the promotion of children’s holistic well-being by supporting parents, caregivers, educators and communities to nurture children’s spiritual development and take an active role in addressing violence in early childhood.

Specific objectives

  • Create spaces and opportunities for faith actors, parents, caregivers, and educators to reflect on the importance of the spiritual development of children in the early years and identify the benefits for children’s holistic development and well-being
  • Encourage self-examination of religious and spiritual principles, teachings and practices that affirm the dignity of the child and challenge those that can be used to condone violence against children in child upbringing
  • Provide tools for building caregiving practices and skills for nurturing spiritual development of children, as one key avenue for contributing to the protection of children from violence in the early years

What does this Toolkit address?

The Toolkit addresses the importance of the spiritual development of children for their protection from violence and holistic development and well-being. The Toolkit is developed around the following shared understandings among Consortium members.

  1. Respect for the human life and dignity of the child is a fundamental principle found in all major religions and spiritual traditions, as well as in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Child dignity is affirmed by addressing the holistic development of children.
  2. Spiritual development is a central aspect of the holistic development and well-being of children, contributing to positive development outcomes. Spiritual development is one of the most under-researched and under-invested areas in child development. Individuals whose work is inspired by religious, spiritual, or faith-based traditions, teachings, or experiences.
  3. Early childhood plays a critical role in the development of children, including in the formation of values, attitudes and prosocial skills. The spiritual development of children
    greatly contributes to these foundational aspects.
  4. Evidence demonstrates that exposure to prolonged stress, violence and conflict in early childhood, or “toxic stress”, can be detrimental to young children’s health, wellbeing, and psychological functioning, memory and learning, impairing their progress through socio-emotional developmental milestones.
  5. Parents, caregivers and educators are the main influencers of children during the early years, and religious and spiritual communities have great influence with these key influencers in many communities around the world.
  6. Religious and spiritual communities play an important role in promoting social norms that affirm positive attitudes, behaviors and practices in child upbringing, and in challenging those that condone violence against children.
  7. Facilitating the engagement of religious and spiritual communities in child development programs requires respect and understanding of their faith, religious and spiritual principles, beliefs, traditions, and practices.
  8. Multi-level, multi-stakeholder and holistic early childhood development services that include the spiritual development of children play an important and under-estimated role in fostering social cohesion and contributing to improved social and economic outcomes in communities.

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