Destigmatizing the so-called “microbe” youth
The perceptions and attitudes of parents, teachers, communities and journalists towards the so-called “microbe” children (youth gang members) have positively changed in the Abidjan districts of Abobo and Yopougon, where Interpeace and Indigo Côte d’Ivoire operate. The narrative around these children has become more humanized and less stigmatizing. This positive transformation is a critical achievement considering the increasing violent tensions around the phenomenon of the “microbes” since the end of the post-electoral crisis. This change in perception and attitude was incrementally achieved throughout 2018 thanks to enduring efforts in confidence building, dialogue, and individual support of Indigo Côte d’Ivoire’s teams for the various target groups. Throughout 2016 and 2018, Interpeace and Indigo managed to generate a deeper understanding of the “microbes” phenomenon at all levels (community, institutions, academic, media), through research and policy work. In order to scale up this positive change in perceptions and attitudes towards these children, Interpeace and Indigo Côte d’Ivoire have encouraged journalists to support this evolution throughout the content of their media productions, thus increasing outreach on the issue to a larger audience. Moreover, Indigo has engaged with respected, local community actors who volunteered in supporting the social reintegration of youth gang members, thus ensuring local ownership and sustainability of this social change process.
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