Monday, October 27, 2014

Cambodia launches report of Violence against Children Survey

First-of-its-kind in East Asia and Pacific region

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 24 October 2014 – This week the Government of Cambodia revealed the findings of Cambodia’s Violence against Children Survey 2013 (CVACS). The first survey of its kind in East Asia and Pacific region, the study is significant because it provides the first national estimates of the magnitude and nature of violence experienced by girls and boys in Cambodia.

The survey was conducted in 2013 by the National Institute of Statistics of the Ministry of Planning, led by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation. It was coordinated by UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2,376 children and young people aged 13 from 24 years old from across the country were asked about their experience of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18.

Over 600 people - including children, government officials, monks and representatives of civil society organisations, academia and the diplomatic corps - attended the launch of the report on Wednesday, 22 October 2014. Addressing the gathering, Cambodia Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Mrs. Men Sam An said, “The issue of violence is an immediate challenge in our country. Solving this requires a joint effort from all of us…With this launch, I would like to call on every citizen and all partners to join us to intervene in time to solve the issue of violence against children.”

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Sofia Ollvid
Over 600 people attended Cambodia's launch of the report of Violence Against Children Survey on 22 October.
The research, summarised in an engaging video shown at the start of the launch event, found that violence is a significant problem in childhood in Cambodia, with over half of children experiencing at least one form of violence before the age of 18. Roughly a quarter of Cambodian children were emotionally abused and 5 per cent experienced some form of sexual abuse prior to age 18. Physical, emotional and sexual violence can occur multiple times in childhood and more than three quarters of Cambodian children reported more than one incident of violence prior to age 18.

In her address, Cambodian Minister of Women’s Affairs Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi said, “Line ministries have joined efforts and effectively contributed for undertaking the survey. Core commitments from ministries and government agencies have been developed and will be translated into action. The report highlights that many children never talk to anyone about their experiences of physical, emotional and sexual violence. I am sure that this unique survey will contribute to improve interventions to hold the perpetrators accountable for their crimes.”

The core commitments will form the basis of a costed national multi-sectoral action plan to prevent and respond to violence against children in Cambodia. The government commitments will also translate into priority actions for 2015 to develop and implement effective child-friendly prevention strategies as well as to improve service provision for all Cambodians, especially children, who experience violence.

Presenting the research findings at the launch, CDC Lead Behavioural Scientist from the Division of Violence Prevention, Howard Kress said the survey revealed that Cambodian children are usually physically abused by people they know and trust (such as parents, teachers and neighbours); and that sexual abuse occurs in places where children ought to feel safe (for example, at home, at school). He also stressed the connection between violence and the incidence of mental health problems and learning impairment. The survey showed that those who experienced violence were more likely to report physical and mental effects, which may last long after the violence has ended.

Special guest at the launch was UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, who praised the government for conducting this ground-breaking survey and encouraged Cambodia to integrate the findings into its overall policy agenda. “The elimination of all forms of violence against children must be a core indicator of national social improvement. It should be a reference for all government sectors, for the budget and for relevant coordinating mechanisms, with a clear monitoring and evaluation plan to assess progress and maintain momentum.”

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Sofia Ollvid
Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, participated in the high-level event for the launch of the report of Cambodia's Violence Against Children Survey held on 22 October 2014 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 
To prepare for the launch event, more than 190 children aged 14 to 17 from across Cambodia attended a series of workshops organized by UNICEF implementing partner Friends International  to discuss the causes and consequences of violence and suggest ways children themselves can help to reduce violence in their communities. Twenty six children represented their peers at the launch with Bona Choeuy and Sreyroth Vat, both 17, presenting their recommendations during a panel discussion on ‘Moving from Research to Action.’ Sreyroth told the gathered audience, “The workshops showed us that we, Cambodia’s youth, need to change our current behavior to reduce violence against children…Our first recommendation is to educate children and youth in our communities about the consequences and impact of violence through peer education. We would like to design posters and leaflets and have special events in our community and schools to share awareness and share this information.”

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Sofia Ollvid
On 22 October 2014 the Cambodian government launched the report of Cambodia’s Violence Against Children Survey. The panel of speakers included two youth representatives, Sreyroth Vat (left) Bona Choeuy (right), both 17, who shared recommendations on what children themselves can do to stop the cycle of violence in their communities.
Speaking on the panel Buddhist monk, Venerable Yorn Seng Yeat, Representative of the Mahanikaya Order and Vice Rector of the Preah Sihanoukreach Buddhist University noted that, “A society in peace depends on you. Education comes from each individual, starting within the family…if you want to solve a problem, you need to understand it. To solve this problem we need to start from each single individual and then involve society as a whole.”

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Sofia Ollvid
A group of Buddhist monks attended the launch of the report of Cambodia’s Violence Against Children Survey on 22 October 2014. The panel of speakers included two monks who shared their views with the audience.
Reflecting on the outcomes of the survey, UNICEF Representative, Cambodia Rana Flowers, said, “We were able to use the impetus of the launch to have several high-level meetings with ministers and deputy ministers; most importantly we were able to get their commitments to concretely follow up on the recommendations of the study.” Ms. Flowers added, “The strength of the commitment of the government is evident in its willingness to host a regional meeting in a year’s time to assess progress but also an opportunity to bring positive and negative experiences from other countries.”

To complement the Cambodia Violence against Children survey report, UNICEF Cambodia has launched a social media #EndViolence awareness campaign. Join and follow the campaign here and here

For more information on Cambodia Violence against Children survey report please visit

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