In order to combat bullying and violence against children in the education system, Diena Haryana creates a new power dynamic among parents, teachers, and other key stakeholders to empower and nurture children to become empathetic leaders.
The New Idea
Through her organization, Semai Jiwa Amini (SEJIWA) Foundation, Diena is building a system and accountability measures to support child development and protect them from violence by activating the stakeholders in the ecosystem. She recognizes that child bullying and violence cases in Indonesian schools and families were mostly caused by a lack of awareness and understanding about good methods of educating and instilling positive values in children. It became a cultural norm and led to the endless loop of violence from generation to generation. She believes that parents and educators are strategic stakeholders in addressing the root cause of violence against children as well as the greatest supporter to nurture children to become empathetic leaders in the future. Diena believes that by shifting the mindset of a good parenting model, a more empowered and nurtured environment for the children can be built.
Her Training of Trainers approach, using her Good Parenting Model (GPM), has succeed in introducing a new way of parenting for parents and educators. Through the model, parents and educators understand the three pillars to empower and nurture children: Becoming a role model, Effective communication, and Empowering others. The training emphasizes the value of reflection, connectedness with neurological science and cultural norms, and practical step-by-step how tos. Joined by large numbers of committed parents and educators in Indonesia, the model encourages them to create a peer-to-peer community to empower each other and influence more new people to shift their cultural norm at homes or in schools. Over time, SEJIWA began to embrace educators at schools to co-develop a child-friendly school ecosystem by collaborating with parents. SEJIWA plays a role as the advisor and observer for each community. The model is widely used at the national level and promoted internationally by her active participation in launching the Child Right Coalition (CRC) Asia. The model has also been introduced in the private sector to change cultural norms among leadership to become empowering, tolerant, and nurturing leaders for their team. It has impacted the targeted companies’ culture in five different countries and was adapted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The new model changes the cultural norm for parents, teachers, and leaders in the education and private sectors by enhancing their empathy skills and helping them to see themselves as the role models for their surroundings. That new relationship shift between children, teachers, and parents or leaders with their team is the key to stopping the cycle of violence and to nurturing the development of the people, including children around them.
In order to make sure the new norm works well in Indonesia, Diena has built a strong accountability system by working directly with children, the ground community of parents and teachers who have mastered the Good Parenting Model, and stakeholders at school. Through the alliance she built, she intensively brings the issue of child violence to media in order to make the issue widely seen and discussed. Together with the power of media and communities on the ground, she urges government to create new reinforcements, implemented nationally and supervised by the local government. Diena supports several ministries in Indonesia including the Ministry of Education to design anti-violence systems in school environment by increasing the capacity of duty managers and supporting schools to map hotspots where violence and bullying usually happens. She collaborated with the various government administrations in drafting five laws related to violence and child protection, which have been launched and implemented since 2014. She has also created a network of young people as the local champions in more than 11 cities in Indonesia where the organization operates, to support the establishment at the grassroots level. Diena and SEJIWA continue the effort by actively participating in coalitions against violence against children, both at the national and regional levels, such as ID-Cop, Siberkreasi, and CRC Asia. Currently, Diena is trying to build more strategic partnerships to achieve the shared vision.
For decades, many Indonesian parents have been strongly affected by traditional methods of parenting that are often archaic and damaging, such as intimidation, belittling, corporal punishments, and comparing one child to the others. These parenting tactics are passed down, and potentially allow children to learn how to shout, intimidate, and humiliate from their own parents. According to Badan Pusat Statistik (Central Bureau of Statistics), 26% of children in Indonesia become victims of physical punishment. Parents are the main offenders and the most frequent to commit violence at home. In the early 2000s, physical and verbal violence against children, especially cases of bullying, was also mounting in schools in Indonesia. Based on a study conducted by SEJIWA and the Department of Psychology at the University of Indonesia, in 2008, there were 1,826 cases where violence was initiated by teachers at school, 48% of total cases. Such violence against children is also perpetrated in the school system by students against new students, particularly during the school orientation period. The stakeholders in school often perceive bullying and even excessive physical punishment as a method for “disciplining” new students. Due to this, children often go unsupervised, and violence sometimes leads to preventable deaths in schools.
As a result of harsh parenting methods both at home and school, many children struggle to become assertive and tend to exhibit either aggressive or passive behavior. The consequences can last into adulthood and affect their development, according to psychologists from the Psychosocial Trauma Support Service at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH). Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person who has experienced violence (both physical and verbal) in childhood is likely to become aggressive and later become the perpetrator of violence (physical or verbal). On the other hand, passive children may become more vulnerable to bullying. In this way, the cycle of violence repeats itself and becomes a cultural and systemic problem.
Based on Diena’s experience and research, one of the root causes of violence in Indonesia is the lack of good parenting models and a supportive environment in the ecosystem. Researchers have demonstrated a strong link between what parents know about parenting and child development with their behavior toward their children. Parents with more knowledge are more likely to engage in positive parenting practices whereas those with limited knowledge are at greater risk of negative parenting behaviors. Harsh parenting, which includes verbal or physical threats, frequently yelling, and hitting, along with immediate negative consequences for a specific behavior, can lead to children having emotional and behavioral issues, such as aggressiveness and difficulty following directions at their surroundings.
While there are many factors that contribute to the systemic issue of bullying and violence against children in Indonesia, Diena Haryana finds that media and government can also play a very critical role to strengthen the power dynamic within the system. By forming a strong accountability system which enables each key stakeholder to protect and nurture the children, even more nuanced issues, such as the rapid dissemination of information and communication technologies (ICTs) which increase the opportunities for cyberbullying and child online protection, could be tackled.
In order to create a new power dynamic in the education system, Diena focuses on getting many different players on board including teachers, parents, researchers, media, and government through different strategies. Her ambitious goal is to change the cultural norms about parenting methods from violence into empowerment. She uses three layers of strategies to achieve her goal; 1) mainstreaming a new model of training of trainers called Teacher The Nurturer and Parents The Nurturer to build awareness of key stakeholders in the school and family environment, 2) creating strong allies via partnerships with researchers, media, and other organizations to raise the visibility of the field, and 3) bringing issues forwards to urge strategic governments to create new policy. The model of good parenting is used for the training of trainers which introducing three different pillars. The first pillar is to nurture empathy by creating a role model. She encourage the participants to reflect on their own behavior and realize how it affects their children/students’ behavior, and always connects the model with neurological science and a cultural/spiritual understanding. The second pillar is communication – she wants to make participants understand three ways of communications: aggressive, passive, and assertive through reflective sessions. The third pillar is empowering. She shares the how tos and step-by-step actions they can do to nurture their children/students more.
Before decided to focus on her current organization, Diena formed Business Dynamics, a training and consulting company serving national and international corporations and industries. She has launched this training approach for managers and staff in five companies in Indonesia, India, China, Thailand, and Vietnam through the Global Alliance. The training covered over 10,000 factory managers and supervisors in these countries for the two-year duration of the project with the focus on how to be empowering, tolerant, and nurturing leaders for their team. Her model has significantly impacted the companies’ environments into more empowering practices and later was adopted by the ILO and used in many other countries. Her experiences in the private sector made her decide to work on the education system to change the mindset of parents and teachers as the key stakeholders to prevent violence and support child development. She found that the old system had been fostering institutionalized violence and even encouraged as the cultural norm to discipline children.
Working in the local community with parents and teachers, she began to expand at the national level to enable more stakeholders to work together in order to create a new system and accountability in Indonesia. Through the partnership with various researchers in big universities in Indonesia, the results of these joint research ventures were published in several organizational and mass media publications so the issue could become more visible and more widely discussed. From 2006 to 2008, Diena and SEJIWA focused on holding national conferences to increase public awareness about children’s rights and protection and to promote the anti-bullying campaign. These national events were attended by teachers, child rights activists, and government officials from all over the country. The first event was attended by the Minister of Education and Culture, Bambang Sudibyo, with Dr. Andrew Mellor from the Antibullying Network as the speaker. The second and third were attended by the Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Meutia Hatta, and were covered by 40 mass media organizations. By then, the issue of bullying had been recognized by the public, and SEJIWA’s work started to get attention from many players in the field.
Diena also worked closely with the Indonesian government to design policies and laws related to non-violence and child protection. Two relevant laws were launched: Article 54, UU no. 35, 2014 on anti-violence against children around the school, and Permendikbud no. 18, 2016, on how student orientation must be implemented, banning all types of violence against children during student orientation. School orientation was redesigned by the Ministry of Education, thanks to her work, to have more empowering and nurturing activities for younger students. Since 2014, Diena has collaborated with several ministries in Indonesia (the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection, the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the Ministry of Information and Technology) and the House of Representatives to co-create various child protection and anti-bullying campaigns and has succeeded in making anti-violence and child protection regulations in Indonesia. One of them was the Anti-Violence Against Children Act, which was launched in 2014 and had been implemented in schools across the country.
SEJIWA also has been supporting the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection as well as the Ministry of Education and Culture in building capacities for national trainers to promote digital parenting (supporting and regulating children’s activities on the internet) in Indonesia. She also collaborates with several organizations, communities, companies, psychologists, activists, and volunteers to design training programs on cyberbullying, digital parenting, and child protection. One of the programs is Smart School Online (SSO), which to date has reached several schools in 11 cities in Indonesia, with the total number of participants numbering over 60,000 and including parents, teachers, and children. Recently, SEJIWA promoted its new curriculum, "Tangkas Berinternet" to make children aware of internet risks and guide them on internet usage. Adapting to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, SEJIWA has now shifted its programming online. The new programming includes "Bincang SEJIWA" which promotes the importance of character building for parents and children by inviting community leaders and young changemakers to share their experiences. Through her active participation in the Child Rights Coalition (CRC) Asia, a network she co-founded to amplify children’s rights and voices in the region, Diena believes the new system should be spread to other countries in Asia.
Growing up in the Province of Central Java, young Diena Haryana repeatedly experienced domestic violence. She was treated unfairly by her family, where she was asked to do all the household chores. At the age of 12, Diena had to work for her own expenses and relied on other students for her meals in school. This affected her self-esteem, where she grew up as a very shy and quiet girl. Despite all of that, Diena was a good student and was awarded a one-year exchange student program through a Study Abroad Scholarship in the United States. This experience was a turning point in her life. During her studies in the US, Diena lived with her foster family in the city of Georgetown, Delaware. Her foster mother was a psychologist who raised her children with love and tenderness. She always treated Diena like her own children. Her foster mother was always supportive of her and helped her learn new things.
After returning from the United States, Diena found her self-confidence and had a fuller understanding of what healthy parenting looked like due to her foster mother. When Diena graduated from high school, she decided to leave her house and start a new life as an English teacher and studied English Language Teaching at the State University of Jakarta. In her second year of college, Diena developed a parenting pyramid inspired by her experience with her foster mother. Diena then graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in education in 1982. Several years later, she received a Chevening Scholarship from the British Council to continue her studies for her master’s degree. During her studies, her model was modified and later applied to private sectors employees and then continuously used in her work on the issue of violence against children.
Before founded SEJIWA, Diena worked in several companies and as a lecturer in her alma mater. She then formed Business Dynamics, a training and consulting company, serving national and international corporations and industries with her former British husband in 1993. In the same year, Diena developed her second training program and applied her two models “Parenting Model in Indonesia” and “Three Steps to Empower Others” into her work at Business Dynamics to train leaders, managers, supervisors, and workers. In early 2000, her model successfully trained several well-known international companies in China, India, Vietnam, and Thailand. Those whole experiences affected and shaped her life choice to focus her work on the issue of violence against children.
When she created Semai Jiwa Amini (SEJIWA) in 2004, a non-profit foundation focused on child protection, Diena decided to leave her career and dedicate her time entirely to SEJIWA. In the future, Diena continues her work on creating the new power dynamic among stakeholders which will enable a system that empowers and nurtures children to become empathetic leaders. From her work, she always believes that "it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."