Up-scaling Grassroots Child Protection in Cambodia

by Mom Chantara Soleil

Public dignitaries, national and international child rights experts gathered today in Phnom Penh to learn about Cambodia’s first-ever national manual that sets out the roles and responsibilities of those concerned to keep children safe.

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Through technical cooperation with the Cambodia National Council for Children, the manual was developed building on successes of Plan International Cambodia’s, other NGOs’ and government body’s work to protect children from all forms of violence at the grassroots level.

“This manual seeks to assist all actors working on child protection mechanisms and provides a model that can be used and adapted by both Government and NGOs. Meaningful and sustainable realisation of child rights is at stake without protection,” said Mr. Brian Beckett, Acting Country Director of Plan International Cambodia.

Representing the government counterpart, Deputy Secretary General of Cambodia National Council for Children H.E. Bou Sophoan thanked Plan for the initiative and for the organisation’s model cooperation to promote children’s rights. “This Family Protection Manual is important as the best protection of children starts with and requires ongoing engagement of their families with others concerned,” she added.

Plan International Cambodia introduced the Family Protection Networks in 2007 in its target provinces. There are now some 380 functioning networks. They are integrated with government mechanisms to prevent, respond to and refer cases of violence to ensure its sustainability.

According to the child rights organisation’s evaluation of the initiative, more than 350 cases of child abuse have been reported and solved. About 70% of children and parents in the communities with Family Protection Networks accept that keeping children safe is a duty and they know what to do if children are abused. Importantly, almost half of these communities have mobilised budget to support the functioning of the Family Protection Networks.

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With these successes and lessons learned of similar practices by other NGOs and Government, Plan and its partners including the Cambodia National Council for Children developed the Family Protection Network manual and is promoting its application so that more Cambodian children can grow up in a safe environment to grow to their full potential.

“Ensuring that children grow up in a safe environment allows them to maximise the benefits of improved access to health, education and children development services. For this reason child protection is a priority for Plan. The Family Protection Network is a community based child protection mechanism designed to strengthen children’s safety and reduce their vulnerability to all forms of violence. In doing so it also promotes the active role of children in their own protection,” added Mr. Brian Beckett.

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