by Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, Country Director of Plan International Cambodia
Hearing reports, statements, and social media posts going on for weeks now, we feel a sincere accountability to urge all stakeholders particularly those who have purposefully and inadvertently engaged in putting the children at stake to stop it. We all love our children. More importantly, investment in children is the most secured investment to the future for all.
As a child rights organisation, Plan International Cambodia welcomes the move to crackdown masterminds behind child beggars and to discourage groundless and ill-willed circulation of child abduction cases on social media to formulate fearful social phenomena and confusion.
Through close cooperation among state and non-sate players especially since the October 1992 ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC), Cambodia has developed and adopted various support entities, procedures, legislative frameworks and laws.
To name a few, Cambodia now has national plan of action for child development, child protection policy in schools, national council for children, a national child protection commission, commune committees for women and children, a technical working group on child protection, as well as child protection hotlines.
Although these are in place, we need strong will and good collaboration from those concerned, ranging from general public to the enforcers, teachers, community members, parents and children themselves.
When child safeguard and protection mechanisms and policies are developed to be functional, children feel at home everywhere and they become a central part of social security.
Meanwhile, not only passing on to children and their families the right kind of information about what to do when they feel insecure, but also ensuring that it reaches the vulnerable ones builds their confidence and peace.
Every child abuse as well as abduction case stands as a threat both for now and in the future of Cambodia and the globe. But for far too long that many have accepted this as ordinary social matter, let alone those intentionally use children as means for their commercial gains who deserve appropriate legal action.
While, perfect cooperation by everyone, everywhere to ensure child emotional and physical safety may not seem feasible. Nevertheless, everyone and everywhere should exercise their best common sense in order to avoid worsening cases, thus creating an atmosphere that empowers children to realise their potential.
Instead of holding unfortunate cases of child violation – sometimes wrongfully – to ransom for individual or group’s benefit, it’s more advantageous for one to stand up and place such issue on their top agenda with realistic initiatives to better address them.
Children as minors deserve no fear, but a friendly and protective environment for them to learn, lead, decide and thrive so as to become the next strong and productive ‘bamboos’.