The Royal Government of Cambodia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. Still, the current child protection system in the country is very weak. Whilst the great majority of the general public has heard of child rights, the knowledge on how to translate child rights into daily practice remains low. The least understood part of child rights is children's right to participation.
Violence was the single biggest issue raised by respondents. Children face violence at home, in school, at the workplace, in the communities and in institutional settings. 41% of children have currently experienced some form of domestic violence, inlcluding physical and mental abuse.
Harmful traditional practices:
- Children belong to parents, so they have to be obedient and do whatever their parents say
- Girls should stay at home, not learn much.
- When adults talk, children should keep quiet.
- Adults always think about their family honour. Even if their daughters are raped or trafficked, to save the face of their family, parents remain silent or negotiate with offenders so that the case is not brought to trial.
Children without appropriate care and children on the move:
Child neglect is having a serious impact on children’s education, their right to food, care and protection, and is leading children to come into contact with the law, use drugs or alcohol, or become vulnerable to rape or sexual abuse. The situation for children with disabilities is even more serious.
Emergency situations and children:
Armed conflicts at the border with Thailand significantly impact children's health, development and psychosocial well-being. The recent conflict interrupted education and threatened other basic needs for at least 10,000 children. Floods and storms are common in Cambodia and affect thousands of children who are unable to access education and other social services.
Approximately 45% among those aged 5-14 years old can be considered as working children. A vast majority of working children (85%) live in rural areas. Almost all working children work between 15-34 hours a week. Most of the children attended school part-time while working. The agricultural sector (agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing) accounted for 70% of the child workers. More men than women work in agriculture and, vice-versa, the proportion of women involved in the trade, manufacturing and services sectors is higher (NPA-WFCL 2008-2012).
Despite efforts made to promote positive discipline, traditional child-rearing methods are common in the entire country. Parents, guardians and teachers discipline children by beating them.
The Cambodia Children Report 2010 states that 41% of all children used to be spanked, cursed and scolded by their parents if they did something wrong and 45% were subjected to physical punishment in school.
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