Cambodia Launches “Strong Family Campaign” to End Violence Against Children

AKP Phnom Penh, February 19, 2020 —

Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) launched today its “Strong Family” communication campaign, the first national campaign of its kind, aiming to end violence against children and unnecessary family separation.

The launching ceremony took place during a high-level event supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), other ministries, development partners and civil society organisations that share a common goal: to eliminate violence again children and unnecessary family separation. This marks another positive step towards Cambodia ending all forms of violence against children and unnecessary family separation.

The Strong Family Campaign aims to address the social and cultural norms that legitimise violence against children and normalise the belief that residential care facilities are beneficial to a child.

Violence is a serious concern with over half of children in the country experiencing at least one form of violence before the age of 18. Childhood violence can have a multitude of long-lasting negative impacts on a child’s well-being in various aspects. Children exposed to violence often suffer a range of negative behavioral, psychological and physical consequences in adolescence and adulthood.

MoSVY and authorities in the five focus provinces have formulated and implemented national and provincial action plans for improving child care, aiming to return 30 percent of children in residential care to their families during 2016-2018. As a result, the number of residential care institutions decreased significantly, however, approximately 17,000 children, were still living in residential care facilities in 2018.

While poverty, lack of access to education and lack of social welfare support contribute to families placing their children in residential care, it is also driven by the belief that children will receive better care and education in institutions. Placement in residential care exposes children to greater risk of violence, exploitation and neglect and can have severe consequences to their development.

H.E. Vong Sauth, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation said the campaign was initiated by MoSVY and UNICEF.

“It aims to raise awareness to eliminate violence against children and unnecessary family separation and to make sure people know that a safe family environment is the best place for a child to grow and develop,” he underlined.

Through the Strong Family Campaign, key messages will be disseminated nationwide through four major communication approaches: mass media; interactive communication technologies; community engagement; and advocacy. The campaign targets children, parents, caregivers, community members, service providers, policy makers, the judiciary and the media.

“We need to take the campaign to the people – to every family, every school, every community, every media”, said Ms. Cristian Munduate, UNICEF’s Representative in Cambodia. “Violence affects all of us! This campaign is an opportunity to mobilise all Cambodians to say NO to violence and to secure a healthy, safe environment for their children and their families.”

In 2019, the Royal Government of Cambodia reinforced its commitment to end violence against children by becoming the 26th Pathfinding Country under the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children (GPEVAC). Cambodia strengthened its dedication to fully implement the inter-ministerial Action Plan to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Children, in which the Strong Family Campaign is one of the key priority activities.

By Khan Sophirom