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Strengthening Child Protection Systems

In Cambodia, Save the Children is working to end all forms of violence against children.

Ending violence against children in Cambodia

Violence against children can take many forms ­– including family violence, child trafficking and exploitation. In Cambodia, we’re building supportive community environments that respond when children are at risk. We work to strengthen community-based child protection systems. And we’re help bring about long-term policy change that helps keep girls and boys safe from all forms of violence.

Why children in Cambodia need better protection

Parents in Cambodia strive to provide care and protection for their children. However – for lots of reasons – many parents also struggle to create a safe and positive home environment.

Reports have found around half of Cambodian children experience some form of violence; roughly one-quarter of children reported emotional abuse by a parent, caregiver or adult relative, and more than 6% of girls and 5% of boys aged 13–17 reported being sexually abused1.

Abuse also happens at school and in institutional care homes where teachers and care workers can be perpetrators of violence against children. Violence is gendered too, and girls tend to experience more physical and sexual violence than boys.

Child protection and social welfare systems in Cambodia have been failing children. Girls and boys impacted by violence often end up in institutional care, placing them at further risk of abuse. In 2016, more than 16,000 children were in care homes, even though 77% had at least one living parent.

All children deserve to grow up in a happy and safe home like 11-year-old Kanha’s in Cambodia.
Photo: Sacha Meyers/Save the Children.

Save the Children's Strengthening Child Protection program

Mothers and fathers, female and male caregivers and people in communities have the greatest potential to protect children and provide for their physical and emotional safety.

The Strengthening Child Protection program was supported by the Australian government between 2019 and 2021 and worked with children, families and communities to improve positive parenting approaches, so children are nurtured and protected as they grow. We provided better social work support to families so they could seek out help, and worked with local and national governments to strengthen the systems that prevent violence, and respond when children do experience violence.

How we know we made a difference

We’ve been working on child protection in Cambodia since 2013. As a result of our work, the Cambodian Government has prioritised family-based care and committed to reducing violence against children through reform to child protection systems.

They are investing in more Community Social Workers and Village Volunteers - both of which are critical for responding to and preventing violence against children in the home and community.

We also know that working with parents and caregivers has created understanding about child rights, and positive ways parents can interact and talk with their children. We’ve seen a change in families where violence has been traded for communication, building more nurturing families that protect children.

Where to from here

We’re committed to supporting children to live free from violence. That’s why we’re trialling an innovative new approach in Cambodia to take a stand against violence towards children and promote positive parenting practices. Through targeted online and offline campaigns and community engagement, we’re aiming to create safer environments where children can thrive and reach their full potential.

1Violence against Children Survey CVACS, 2013.

Our child protection work in Cambodia is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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