Sok* is a 15-year-old boy in Grade 8 living with his parents and three brothers, his mother, Ny*, 47, and his father 54, Dara*. They live in Borei Chulsar district, Takeo province.
Sok’s family was a case study in domestic violence. His father often became drunk and abused his mother. Sometimes, Sok felt hate for his family situation because he was rarely given attention. There was little interest shown in his studies or life aspirations. He wanted to run away. He needed care and love from his parents.
More than 75 percent of Cambodian children experience at least one form of violence before they turn 18 according to a 2013 Survey on Violence Against Children (VAC) by the Ministry of Women Affairs and UNICEF.
"Violence has serious long-term consequences on children's lives, their development and the future of their communities," says Channy Sar, World Vision’s child protection specialist. Violence against children costs Cambodia approximately $168 million, or just over 1 per cent of GDP according to the same report.
World Vision cooperated with community facilitators to conduct Celebrating Families trainings for 306 families from 13 villages in Borei Chulsar. According to the pre- and post-test results, 174 out of 306 parents have demonstrated an increased knowledge about positive discipline and other child protection related issues. For example, after completing the Celebrating Families course with 17 sessions for four months, Sok’s parents described feeling regret about the way they had treated their family members. Acknowledging how damaging it was it to their own family. A Celebrating Families facilitator conducts home visits to Sok’s family every two weeks to provide consultation, to reflect on progress, and explore how positive parenting can serve to transform everyone’s lives.
Based on a Celebrating Families facilitator’s observation, Sok’s father has transformed in terms of his relationship with his family. He talks more often with his children and helps his wife do housework and planting vegetables. Previously, his children were afraid of him but now they are very close to each other. The father says, “I love my family very much. Right now I feel happy, and we want this happiness to stay with our family forever,”
Channy Sar says, "A safe and protective environment helps children to grow in healthy ways. When children are treated justly, with tenderness, kindness, care for and love, they will then continue echo such experiences to others and their next generation."
Celebrating Families’ is a project model implemented by World Vision in 60 countries aiming to transform attitudes and behaviours of parents, caregivers, faith leaders and community members. This project equips and empowers them to create a safe and protective environment for children, especially the most vulnerable, to thrive and to foster positive relationships within families. In 2020, over 37,000 Cambodian parents and caregivers received support, training, an awareness on positive parenting skills.
In Cambodia, World Vision’s Child Protection Programme contributes to ensure the protection of children from abuse, exploitation and other forms of violence and over 158,000 children benefited from the implementation.
NOTE: (*) the names of the family were changed to protect the privacy of the family.