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Phi No’s Child Welfare Department fighting child abuse, splits in families

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Phi No, director of the Child Welfare Department at the social affairs ministry, speaks at a press conference at the Council of Ministers on August 18. GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSONS UNIT

Phi No’s Child Welfare Department fighting child abuse, splits in families

The Strong Family campaign is a collaboration between the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth, UNICEF and other NGO partners, including Friends International, Save the Children, Plan International, Child Fund, World Vision, APLE, Cambodian Children’s Trust, M’Lup Russey and Child Helpline Cambodia.

The Post sat down with Phi No, director of the Child Welfare Department at the social affairs ministry, to find out more about the campaign.

What is the Strong Family Campaign? What is its overall purpose?

Violence is a major concern and has a long-term negative effect on the well-being and development of children in various aspects related to their mental and physical behaviour in adolescence and into adulthood.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has developed and implemented action plans to improve child care and integrate 30 per cent of children from child care back to their families safely.

Some studies have shown that placing children in child care centres that do not comply with the government’s policies, standards and laws can put those children at risk of violence, exploitation and neglect and that can have serious negative effects on childhood development.

So, the Strong Family Campaign was created with the goal of addressing the social and cultural issues that perpetrate violence against children and also ensuring that child care centres are places that provide many benefits to children.

The campaign also aims to raise awareness to prevent and eliminate violence against children and prevent unnecessary separations of children from their families, and also to ensure that people understand that a safe family environment is the best place for children to grow and develop.

The Strong Family Campaign shows the Royal Government’s strong commitment to ending violence against children and to joining with our global partners to bring about an end to violence against children as part of the ongoing global movement to end violence against children (GPEVAC).

When did the campaign start and which parties have participated?

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation launched the Strong Family Campaign to end violence against children and to end the separation of children from their families in Cambodia on February 19, 2020 as the first national outreach campaign on this topic.

This campaign has the participation of relevant ministries, institutions and partner organisations with a common goal of eliminating all violence against children. This campaign is another positive step in Cambodia’s efforts to end all forms of violence against children and unnecessary separation of children from their families.

Where is the campaign taking place? How many target groups or citizens are involved?

The awareness raising aspect of the campaign has been spreading across the country through media outlets, including TV, radio, social media and direct dissemination within communities.

There are six main targeted areas: Phnom Penh, Kandal, Sihanoukville, Battambang, Siem Reap and Ratanakkiri provinces and towns, and it will continue expanding into other provinces.

All educational messages are intended to show that Cambodia absolutely won’t tolerate violence against children and that we must prevent unnecessary separation of children from their families everywhere in Cambodia.

The main target groups include children, parents, guardians, childcare providers and the community in general, so that they can prevent and respond to any violence against children they witness.

What results have been achieved by this campaign so far?

We’ve produced a number of educational programmes that were broadcast on CTN and MyTV from February to April 2020 and from May to April 2021. We also produced a number of programmes that aired on three radio stations nationwide and in the target provinces of Siem Reap, Battambang, Sihanoukville and Kandal.

We produced five radio dramas with a total of 25 episodes which were broadcast live on Tonle 102.5 FM and are being rebroadcasted on six target capital-provincial radio stations.

Furthermore, we’ve disseminated text message (SMS) by mobile phone from March to April 2020 in the target capital-provinces through Smart mobile and Cellcard and we’ve produced short educational video clips on the prevention of child abuse which were posted online and we also produced short videos featuring influential people such as monks, for example, Venerable Kou Sopheap.

Through social media like Facebook and via broadcast channels such as radio & TV, we estimate that from its beginning until now the Strong Family Campaign has reached about 10 million people.

However, due to the spread of Covid-19, the dissemination of the Strong Family Campaign within the communities has been slowed down, but we’ve been doing training at the sub-national level in Siem Reap, Ratanakkiri, Battambang and other provinces.

At least 500 parents, guardians, childcare providers and children, as well as community members, participated in the direct educational programmes.

How do we define what a strong family is and how can we make our families in the Kingdom stronger?

The meaning of strong family in this case is a family that helps children feel safe and secure. A strong family provides warmth and care, has good communication and strong relationships with others outside the family, as well. Taking care of yourself is an important part of raising a strong family.

Generally, strong families have one thing in common: Warmth and affection. They are caring environments and the children get a lot of positive attention, with good relationships and a happy family atmosphere, while also positively interacting with other people outside the family.

Strong families give children a happy and safe place where they can be themselves and find out who they are. Because children in strong families feel safe and loved, they are confident in exploring their world, trying new things and learning. They are better able to deal with challenges and setbacks because they know they have family support.

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