University of Texas at El Paso
Social Justice Initiative
Social Justice Film Series    

The Social Justice Initiative at UTEP, in association with Positive Deviance Initiative @ Tufts University, presents the first volume of its film series:

Positive Deviance and Child Protection


The first film, Reflections on Positive Deviance by Monique Sternin, offers a first-hand account of the philosophical and practical groundings of the Positive Deviance approach. Monique Sternin, co-pioneer of the PD approach and director of the Positive Deviance Initiative @ Tufts University offers her insights on topics such as underscoring the wisdom of ordinary people, the discovery of already existing solutions, the emphasis on practice, community ownership, the role of the facilitator, and relationship-building.

Reflections on Positive Deviance by Monique Sternin

The second film, hinges on the wisdom of a Javanese proverb: “Let go of the tiger’s head, but hold on to the tail.” The Positive Deviance approach was piloted successfully by Save the Children in Gadungsari, a community of East Java in 2003 and has since been expanded to other nearby villages. The film shows some of the challenges young girls and their families face in order to make an honest living in rural Indonesia. Former Save the Children staff person, Titing Martini, and local government official Pak Kasmadi share their experiences with the project, highlighting the small, seemingly insignificant practices used by Positive Deviants that have made a difference in reducing girls’ trafficking from the project’s inception to the present.

Let Go of the Tiger's Head, But Hold on to the Tail

    The third film, The Music Catches Me and We Rise Again, is a field-based account of Positive Deviance as it was used in Northern Uganda to address the successful reintegration of formerly abducted child soldiers and vulnerable mothers after over 20 years of civil conflict. Upon escaping or being rescued from abduction, girls who had been victims of the treacherous acts of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) were faced with an unwelcome return into their former communities. In order to survive, many girls resorted to transactional sex. But amongst them there were outliers who did not. They are the Positive Deviants. In this film, girls and their mentors share the everyday practices and behaviors that helped them defeat the odds.

The Music Catches Me and We Rise Again

All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2009 PDI-TUFTS/SJI-COMM-UTEP.

These three films are also available for purchase on and on The DVD complements the monograph: Protecting Children from Exploitation and Trafficking: Using the Positive Deviance Approach in Uganda and Indonesia (Singhal & Dura, 2009).  It is available on and

Net proceeds from DVD sales will be contributed to Save the Children USA by the Social Justice Initiative, Department of Communication, University of Texas at El Paso.