UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Director calls for increased efforts to end violence against children in Cambodia

08 December 2023
© UNICEF Cambodia/2023/Bunsak But
UNICEF Cambodia/2023/Bunsak But

PHNOM PENH, 8 December 2023 – UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Debora Comini, concluded a three-day visit to Cambodia today to promote child rights and observe UNICEF Cambodia’s work to support the country’s child protection system and care for the most vulnerable children and youth. During the mission, she met with ministry officials and development partners to advocate for enhanced efforts to end violence against children in all settings and end unnecessary family separation.

"Too many children in the region experience insidious forms of violence, including physical and psychological abuse," said UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Debora Comini. "Violence often happens in the very place where children should be most protected – their homes. Every child, everywhere, has the right to live free from all kinds of violence, exploitation and abuse."

According to the Cambodia Demographic Health Survey 2021–2022, 66 per cent of 1–14-year-olds have experienced violent discipline at home, and 27 per cent of caregivers believe that physical punishment is needed to raise or educate a child properly.

To prevent violence against children and promote positive discipline, UNICEF Cambodia supports a program implemented in pagodas and led by the Ministry of Cult and Religion. The program focuses on strengthening the knowledge and skills of Buddhist monks to transform attitude, beliefs and behaviors of families regarding violence and create safer spaces in schools, homes, and communities for children to grow and develop. As of October 2023, 1,131 monks from 571 pagodas have received training on child protection, reaching more than 76,000 people.

"I am impressed by the religious leaders of this pagoda, who champion child rights and are working to prevent violence against children," said Ms Comini, during her visit to Wat Kampoul Traiphup pagoda in Phnom Penh. "Their engagement is crucial in creating the safe environments children need in order to grow, learn and pursue a bright future. "

During meetings with key ministry officials and development partners, UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific Debora Comini also recognised the Cambodian Government’s investments in child protection, education, and social assistance, including through the launch of National Social Assistance Family Package Programme, and its efforts to reach the country’s most vulnerable people, including children, women, and persons with disabilities. She highlighted the need to enhance investments to accelerate learning recovery, teacher reform, climate education, and to address persistent child wasting.

"No violence against children is justifiable. All violence against children is preventable. However, to achieve this, we all have a role to play. This includes all stakeholders, parents, extended families, teachers, religious and community members," said Dr. Will Parks, UNICEF Representative in Cambodia. "This program with religious leaders is crucial to initiating sustainable social transformation. UNICEF remains committed to supporting national efforts in ending violence against children."

The Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific also urged the Government to complete its child rights commitment by ratifying Optional Protocol 3 to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on a communication procedure, which will contribute to reinforce accountability for child rights by establishing mechanisms to allow children to seek redress for the violation of their rights.

During the visit she met with the General Secretary of National Social Protection Council and Ministry of Economy and Finance, H.E. Dr. Chan Narith; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Youth and Sport, H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Cults and Religion, H.E Seng Somony, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, H.E. Khiev Bory; Senior Minister and Chairman of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, H.E. Ouk Rabun; and EU Ambassador, H.E. Igor Driesmans.

Media contacts

Hadrien Bonnaud
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Cambodia
Tel: +85592555294
Bunly Meas
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Cambodia
Tel: +85523260204;ext=435

Additional resources

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook