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Project report

Improve child protection in Cambodia Cambodia , RUN BY: Save The Children Australia | STATUS: COMPLETED

This project is 100% Funded



AUD 20,001

Raised from 6,014 people

Project background

More than half of Cambodian children experience some form of physical violence prior to the age of 18. These children commonly experience multiple instances of abuse during childhood and are subjected to different, and often overlapping, forms of violence such as sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Child protection systems at the commune, district and provincial level are weak, underfunded, uncoordinated and poorly staffed.

Children in institutions, such as orphanages are at higher risk of abuse, violence and neglect and despite the declining poverty rate, the number of orphanages increased by 75% from 2005 to 2015. 80% of children in institutions have one living parent so strengthening families means less risk of children being institutionalised. 

Save the Children’s Families Together program has been at the forefront of influencing national policy reform and working on the ground in Cambodia helping families and communities to provide safe home environments for children.

Increased awareness of the considerable risks children face from institutional care, including negative social, cognitive, emotional and physical development, has prompted global policy and practice reform. Research shows that strengthening and improving the safety of children within their own families significantly reduced the likelihood of children with at least one living parent being institutionalised and being at greater risk of abuse, voice or neglect. 

The project aims to ensure that all children are protected from all forms of abuse and violence through strengthened policies, legislative frameworks and a supportive community environment. When families are stronger, the risk of children going into institutions is significantly reduced, leading to stronger communities and less risk of abuse, violence and neglect.  

Project outcomes

Outcome #1: Parenting without violence sessions

Test results from parenting group meetings demonstrate increased knowledge and skill in Positive Parenting (PP) (87% of targeted parents are applying positive parenting techniques). A total of 59 child abuse cases identified (32 girls) and 100% of these received case management from implementing partners. These achievements are resulting in improved protection for children.

Outcome #2: Case management

Through training and ongoing coaching support to Village Volunteers (VVs), Community Social Workers (CSWs) and CCWCs, the quality of child protection responses across the 10 target communes has increased.

4,748 marginalised children (including 2,293 girls) received response services from CSWs/CCWCs (approximately 85% of marginalised children in target communities). Social services budget allocations for all 10 target communes increased from USD 42,271 (2018) to USD 62,893 (2019).

Outcome #3: National advocacy

The national policy on Child Protection (CP) System is ready for submission to the Council of Ministers for approval in December 2019. Child Protection Guidebook drafted with feedback incorporated from Ministry of Interior (MoI) and sub-national levels. Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), MoSVY and Cambodia National Council for Children (CNCC) developed operational plans and prioritised resources to implement Positive Parenting Strategy and National Action Plan on Violence Against Children (VAC) in 2019-20.

Project challenges

Disability inclusion has remained a challenge in project implementation due to the limited capacity of local authorities, Commune Councils (CCs), Commune Committee for Women and Children (CCWC) and project staff in identifying children with a disability and assessing their needs. This resulted in low numbers of children with disability participating in this project. To overcome this, the project will increase focus on the inclusion of children with disabilities by working with local disability organisations and build capacity of key stakeholders (as noted above) on disability inclusion and how to work with children with disabilities with technical support from Save the Children Australia. 

Obtaining the involvement of men/fathers in project activities (e.g. Parenting Groups) is an ongoing challenge as fathers commonly consider themselves breadwinners more than co-parents. Most fathers have prioritised income generation and expect their wives to participate in Parenting Groups. To address this, based on our lesson learnt and experiences from the previous phase of the project, the project is seeking increases in men /fathers involvement in parenting groups and other activities through forming fathers only parenting groups run at times that are convenient for them and training and encouraging men to participate in regular activities.

Project learnings

Improvements in parental behaviour has been witnessed during home visits, including not resorting to physical violence when disciplining children. We have learnt that it takes time to change behaviour and that awareness raising requires sustained effort. The opportunity for parents to raise concerns and discuss parenting is vital and is a key component for Parenting Groups. Another key learning is that the sustainability of child protection systems requires ongoing Government support and increased budget allocations.

The project has therefore successfully advocated for improved social service budget support. This will help address children’s issues and provide allowances to cover transportation fees for village volunteers and community social workers to provide social work services and awareness raising to children and parents. While decreases in physical violence against children has been achieved in target communities there is some evidence of increases in psychological violence.

It has been learnt that caregivers commonly conceive violence in terms of hitting and the achievement in reductions in physical violence may have had the unintended consequence of increasing psychological violence. A focus on educating caregivers about psychological violence is therefore vital to ensure caregivers understand and practice positive parenting as an alternative to all forms of violence.

Project impact

The $20,000 investment from Footprints helped to pay a Community Social Worker, who specialises in complex family violence issues. A role like this usually works with over 1,000 children, parents and community helping make families stronger so that children don’t suffer abuse and violence.

This included:

  • Teaching parents and caregivers how to parent without violence including positive reinforcement. 
  • Training parents on the importance of joint responsibilities and encouraging fathers to play an active and positive role in their children’s upbringing.
  • Improving access to services including education to ease the pressures of parenting. 
  • Ensuring all programs are inclusive i.e. disability and gender. 
  • Improving local social worker and case management workforce to prevent, respond and protect children at risk of abuse, violence and institutionalisation.
  • Strengthening police, judges and lawyers' knowledge of child protection.

What's next?

Save the Children is continues to work in partnership with Cambodian government ministries and technical working groups including the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY), the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), and the Cambodia National Council for Children (CNCC) to seek long-term support for policy and legislative change.

This program is part of the Cambodian Government’s Positive Parenting Strategy 2017 – 2021, and the National Plan of Action on Violence Against Children 2017 – 2021.

How was it this funded?

Thanks to hundreds of tiny donations from these online businesses and their customers.

World Nomads USA
World Nomads Canada
Travel Insurance Direct AU
Travel Insurance Direct NZ
World Nomads Australia
World Nomads NZ
World Nomads UK
World Nomads Global
World Nomads Europe
World Nomads Ireland
Save The Children Australia

Save the Children Australia aims to ensure that all children, regardless of gender, race, country of origin or religious belief have the means for survival, receive protection and have access to nutrition, primary health care and basic education.