PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – The effort to reduce violence against children in Cambodia is gaining speed, with a boost from the Religion Ministry, which will highlight the Buddhist value of nonviolence as well as the practice of meditation in the country’s schools, according to ministry officials.
These teachings will be incorporated into the curriculum of schools nationwide to link efforts to reduce violence against children to culturally relevant beliefs and practices, the officials said.
New curriculum to combat violence against children will be introduced into the curriculum in the next school year.
“I firmly believe that we can be successful in reducing violence against children,” Min Khin, minister of Cults and Religion told a conference last week. It drew staff from Unicef, NGOs, monks and officials from the Education and Religion ministries.
“I want to send a clear and strong message to the people of Cambodia about the importance of human rights and the necessity of preventing violence, especially against women and children,” the minister said.
His comments were described by those attending the conference as demonstrating how a collaborative approach is being taken to tackle violence against children by several ministers working collaboratively with UN agencies, NGOs and Buddhist monks.
The effort to reduce violence against children is gaining speed, they said.
More than half of Cambodian children experience violence before the age of 18, according to a survey of 2,376 teens and youths by Unicef in 2013. The rate was almost identical for boys and girls.
About one-quarter of Cambodian children are emotionally abused while growing up, the study found. Rates of sexual abuse are also alarming: 4.4 percent of females and 5.6 percent of males aged 18 to 24 reported experiencing some form of sexual abuse prior to age 18. More than 6 percent of females and 5 percent of males aged 13 to 17 reported at least one experience of childhood sexual abuse.
“Violence against children is never justifiable. Nor is it inevitable,” Women’s Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi said when the report on the data was released. “If its underlying causes are identified and addressed, violence against children is entirely preventable,” she said.