Mom, 39, a leader of Child Protection Committee (CPC), shares her niece’s experience of being abused in the 2004. Mom says, “my niece, 5 years, was [sexually] abused. We did not know how to report the case [and] had no legal action to sue the perpetrator.”
Savoeun Chey, Commune Committee for Women and Children in Cham Nom, says, “We really faced challenges regarding receiving information of any form of child abuse [happening] in our community. We did [lose] information [because] we had no community-based mechanisms to protect children.”
Since children in the local area face various forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence and many cases happen silently without legal action, Active Communities towards Protection of Children (ACPC) project was introduced to 80 villages in 2014.
Through the project, 80 voluntary villager groups named Children Protection Committee (CPC) were formed to promote child protection in their communities by raising awareness on child rights, domestic violence, child abuse, drug usage, positive discipline to children and how to report incident cases on children. 41,980 children were impacted by the project.
Booklets, posters, flip chart and notebooks on child abuse line the ground floor in a home church made from brick and corrugated roof, where 18 children from age 7-14 years old are learning and reading. Mom, a CPC leader, leads children in this activity every month. The session is called Peace Road Curriculum, which aims to improve knowledge of children on child protection.
“We have been training parents to practice positive discipline, showing love, care for their children and to protect children from any abuses and exploitation,” says Sopheap Soung, World Vision child protection coordinator.
Around 80 adults and children attend bimonthly child rights and protection sessions facilitated by CPC leaders in the Cham Nom commune. A girl named Socheata,10, says with a smile, “I came here...twice. I learn with my friends. I [know] that if child abuse happens, I will tell my parents and my teacher.”
“We do this by strengthening families' and communities' awareness and abilities to safely care for and protect their children. We [can] reduce the number of children being abused, separated from their parents,” says Mom.
To maximize impact for children, World Vision has been strengthening government and community-based protective mechanisms within an existing structure called Commune Committee for Women and Children. Twenty communes prioritized integrating child protection activities into their commune development plans. Strategic action plans were created for topics such as domestic violence, child birth certificates, child labour, child trafficking, child exploitation and safe migration.
“I am really proud of [how] World Vision’s project [Active Communities towards Protection of Children (ACPC)] has implemented into our target area. And child protection groups have ...played [a] role as community-based protective mechanisms for reporting when any form of child abuse [happens] in our commune and we [respond to] those cases in timely,” Chey Savoeun says.
Through Collaboration with Committee of women and children (CCWC), the project has provided regular support on capacity building to CPC Groups, mobilized for meetings, created great relations to improved community-based protective mechanism and provided information, education and communication materials.
Soung is strongly motivated by the child safe expectation, and proud of the work CCWC has done.
“We appreciated [seeing how] CCWC has played [a] role as [a] local existing [resource] to protect ...children and [how] they are functional to [respond to] various [forms] of child abuse."