UNICEF works to strengthen Cambodia’s child protection system so that children are protected from harm. We work closely with government ministries, the Cambodian National Police and other partners to realize a vision of change for Cambodia, where girls and boys, including adolescents, live free from violence, abuse and exploitation in their homes, schools and communities.
Specifically, we focus on building a child-friendly legal framework, supporting children and adolescents with appropriate crime-prevention and response measures, and fostering a culture of non-violence by transforming the social attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate violence itself.
Build a child-friendly protection system
In Cambodia, the absence of a child protection law makes it difficult to develop a coordinated and effective child protection response across the country. UNICEF is supporting the government to develop such a law, together with related policies and standards, such as including alternatives to residential care for children.
Reliable, significant data is critical to powerful action. Cambodia has a wealth of child protection data, but they are sporadic and ad hoc. To bridge this gap, we are working with the government to consolidate and launch a Child Protection Information Management System that will help generate data which can be tracked and which will allow for better interventions.
Weave a safety net for vulnerable children
Social workers are the backbone of a solid child protection system. While Cambodia has government staff who work in the social welfare sector, they are not classified as social workers. In 2012, there were only 917 social workers in the whole country, the majority of whom had no formal social work training.
We support the government to train social workers in the areas of health, education, justice and child protection, so that they can they handle cases related to violence, juvenile crime and institutional care in the most appropriate and effective manner.
Using a systematic approach, we support the training of a broader workforce of welfare, justice, health and social protection staff who are responsible for protecting children. We do this so they gain the knowledge and tools they need to identify vulnerable children and provide child-friendly services, including crime prevention and justice, for example alternatives to arrest and imprisonment.
Foster a culture of non-violence and family preservation
Communities play a critical role in keeping families together, protecting children from violence and ensuring that they thrive in a safe environment. Parents, teachers and caregivers who learn about positive parenting can promote non-violent behaviour, while well-respected religious leaders who understand the importance of keeping children out of residential care are more likely to support families to raise their children at home.
We work with our partners to train teachers and religious leaders so that they have the knowledge and awareness they need to protect children. We run campaigns to change people’s behaviour and their perceptions of discipline. Our campaigns champion positive discipline and challenge existing thinking that perpetuates unnecessary family separation.