“The land of fireflies” prevention of violence against children / Sosnowiec, Poland 2012

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The municipality of Sosnowiec, in Poland, carried an innovative pilot programme for the prevention of domestic violence which includes interventions with victims and also perpetrators. It also includes a specific set of actions aimed at very young children. Through a fairy tale, “The Land of the Fireflies”, children learn how to identify and name their emotions and the difficulties they face. (Click here to find more about the projects implemented by the Municipality of Sosnowiec in the field of domestic violence prevention.)


“The land of fireflies” (“Kraina Swietlików”) – pilot programme on prevention of violence against small children, Municipality of Sosnowiec, Poland, 01/08 – 31/12/2012.



CITY: Sosnowiec
REGION: Silesia


The project lasted 5 months (01/08 – 31/12/2012)
Setup time: 01/08 – 30/09/2012
Completion time: 03/10 – 14/12/2012
The project was completed.
The project was a pilot prevention programme which shall be implemented in the area of Sosnowiec.


prevention, domestic violence, children


Implementation of the project was preceded with quality research carried out by the Social Politics Department in five nursery schools selected at random in five districts of Sosnowiec, and the research showed that the pre-school teachers do not have any tool at their disposal to help them identify and support families with the high-risk of violence. During the interviews the nursery school staff often articulated their doubts, for instance, how to recognize a child is subject to violence, where to report their doubts, how to distinguish that in a given family the incidents of violence against children may take place in the future.

Police and judicial statistics are the vital source of data allowing for estimation of the scale and dynamics of the problem of violence against children. The analyses of the scale of the violence against children performed on the basis of the aforementioned data are, however, limited, as they only refer to cases in which legal intervention was initiated. The aforementioned data do not include incidents of child abuse, which were not reported to proper authorities. The role of the representatives of nursery schools in the matter of solving violence problem in case of children is particularly vital.


The main target of the project was to increase early detection of cases or high-risk situations of violence against children aged 3-5.

In order to achieve that it was necessary to achieve several detailed aims:

  1. Creation and testing of innovative prevention program directed to children aged 3-5.
  2. Providing 10 staff members of nursery schools in knowledge concerning the work with prevention program methodology.
  3. Reinforcement of the abilities of 10 staff members of nursery schools to recognize child abuse.
  4. Reinforcement of the abilities of 40 parents in the scope of responsible parenthood.

Establishing and abiding the standard of a facility free from violence.


The beneficiaries of the project are the children, their parents and the professionals who work with them. The project was tested in five kindergartens within Sosnowiec and in 2013 it will be implemented in all the kindergartens of the city.


The key intention of “the Land of Fire-Flies” project is to increase awareness of a child in comprehending the surrounding reality. The assumption of the authors of the project is not to focus child’s attention on problems, difficulties or threatening situations. The activities of the program concern the understanding, by a child, the experienced states occurring in various family and non-family situations.

Owing to this form of creating situation, it is possible to undertake the dialogue which is safe for a child and not directly associated with the child’s own experiences. Professionalism of methodologists allows, in this context, to benefit from natural mechanism of interpretation which are applied by children during such experiences. Specialists participate directly in children’s projection, fantasies and other spontaneous reactions. Creating fairytale-based situation of contact with a child allows for the maintenance of the level of metaphoric dialogue.

The first stage of the project entails the presentation of the parable entitled “the Land of Fire-Flies” which forms the matrix to the whole prophylactic work.

The next phase of the activities is to increase the awareness of violence phenomena in the family, via continuation of the fairy tale, directing its story into specific problems. The story of the fairy tale shall refer to problems or situations successively included in the story. The story of the fairy tale refers to the situations known to a child and is the foundation of metaphoric work with a child, Children aged 3-5 experience a wide range of feelings and experiences, for instance, conflicts at home, loss of the near and dear or an object, which whom/which particular emotions were connected. Subsequent sessions with children constitute the coherent sequence with the model of possible child’s experiences, connected with difficult situation/ abuse: feeling of helplessness, lack of understanding of intentions, need for help, feeling of responsibility, need for love, feeling of fear (in total- six sessions).

The selection of the fairy tale as a form of work with children is dictated with the fact that it is a natural form of expression, which involves fantasy and imagination of a child. The power of the metaphor is based on its long life- a child may refer to it after years (long-term prophylaxis). Every fairy tale is extremely essential, every one has a task assigned. In the main parable, a fairy is the metaphor of the opportunity of obtaining assistance; she personalizes a professional in a real life. “Pompon” is a metaphor of the possibility to keep secret.      


City of Sosnowiec



Other partners involved in the project:

– Auchan Shopping Centre in Sosnowiec – letting the premises for the „Fire-Fly’s Cafe”, free of charge. “Fire-Fly’s Cafe” [Kawiarenka Świetlika] is an attractive formula of meetings for parents who want to spend time in fine atmosphere and extend their knowledge in the field of widely understood upbringing of children. This way, having a cake and coffee, parents can meet various specialists in childcare, support and upbringing of children. No need of registration- parents simply come there together with a child. In the pilot program (2012) this form of contact was particularly popular among parents- at each time there were more than 30 visitors to the Cafe. In total, 120 people benefited from this form of contact.

– Polish manufacturer of toys- WADER.

– ITAKA Travel Agency- sponsor of the main prize in the photographic competition for parents and children, which is one family trip to Disneyland.

The project was realized with the patronage of honour of the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection.


Total cost of the project: 192,000 PLN
Own contribution of the City Hall in Sosnowiec: 51,430 PLN
Amount co-financed by the Ministry: 141,500 PLN

In order to realize the project, the City Hall obtained funding from the Ministry of Labour and Social Politics within the framework of the support program “Support for local government units in establishing systems for domestic violence prevention.” The project was made possible with the help of volunteers from public and private sectors.


The assumed aims of the project were achieved. The activities performed had influence on achieving in total the fundamental aim of this project. The aims were achieved in a larger extent than assumed in the applied proposal. The program won substantial interest both among specialists as well as children and its general message- the increase of awareness in the field of small children-aimed prophylaxis- proved to be extra-local (winning interest at national level).

Project outcomes:

– owing to the participation in coaching to “the Land of Fire-Flies” program realization, the ability of recognizing early symptoms of child abuse and reacting to it grew in the group of 40 specialists
– the knowledge on violence-free upbringing increased in the group of 20 parents participating in training courses,
– the increase of educational/ custodial abilities increased in the group of 20 parents participating in training courses,
– the interest of parents of children in the area of Sosnowiec in educational methods free from violence increased
– the level of early recognition of high-risk violence against children cases grew
– children who suffered from domestic violence obtained support and assistance

Project products:

– 100 people participated in training courses, coaching and individual consulting sessions,
– 38 specialists received the certificate of completion of training in the field of domestic violence prevention,
-20 parents received certificates of training courses completion,
– 300 booklets on “the Land of Fire-Flies” program were issued and distributed,
– 50 hours of support (training courses, individual consulting) were provided
– 80 people participated in summary conference
– one electronic final publication was elaborated
– one pilot prevention program on violence against children was elaborated and completed
– one standard of prevention of domestic violence was elaborated for the nursery facilities

Influence of the project:

– the knowledge was obtained in the scope of the level of recognition of domestic violence by children, information on participation in the situations of violence, the scope of comprehension of violence by a child,
– to the environment of children the knowledge was passed on the features of abuse situations, relations, support opportunities, etc.


Problems and challenges

  • prevention
  • processing of data
  • different levels of involvement of kindergarten staff
  • various levels of competence of specialists
  • fear of taking the intervention        


The project is currently being implemented in all the kindergartens of the city (year 2013).


Date of the update of the best practice form: /11/2013





  1. Evaluation report on “the Land of Fire-Flies” project
  2. Methodological guide book for “the Land of Fire-Flies” project
  3. Guide book for teachers entitled “When to suspect child abuse”
  4. project leaflet (also in English version)
  5. Presentation of the project realization (also in English)

Materials are available on the website of the project: http://www.kraina-swietlikow.pl/?page_id=35