Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation Training

In the last several years, there has been a noticeable growth in the travel and tourism industries in Southeast Asia. In fact, Southeast Asia has been recognized as the fastest growing sub-region for tourism in the world (ECPAT, 2017). Whatsmore, an increasing number of tourists are choosing Cambodia as their destination. In 2017, over 5.6 million tourists visited Cambodia, a number that is expected to jump up to 7 million by 2020 (Khmer Times).

While this has led to gains in development in the region, particularly in the area of communications technology, it has also resulted in the increased sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT) as well as online child sexual exploitation (OCSE) (ECPAT, 2017). In order to ensure the safety of children from the most vulnerable populations in Cambodia, stakeholders must scale up their knowledge and training on prevention and response to child sexual exploitation. Thanks to financial support from Terre des Hommes Netherlands, last month 9 team members and 50 girls on our program were able to do just this by attending a series of free workshops on the prevention of child sexual abuse and exploitation put on by our partner, Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE).On December 13th and December 19th, six team members took part in two training workshops designed to strengthen participants' capacity and share resources on child protection. The first training workshop, “Preventing Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Communities” brought together 35 representatives from child protection NGOs around Siem Reap to increase awareness and knowledge of SECTT. The workshop covered topics such as online safety, safety in institutions, and how to best respond to child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The second training workshop, “Child-Friendly Operating Standards for the Protection of Victim of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation” brought together 64 government officials and child protection stakeholders to share knowledge about how to ensure Child-Friendy standards are adopted in any interaction with child victims, and how to recognise signs of sexual abuse and exploitation. One Free To Shine Education Officer who attended, Tong, reflected that the workshop was beneficial in that it gave participants the hear some of the common challenges faced by child protection organisation, police officers, and government authorities in cases of child exploitatin and abuse and their best practices in overcoming these challenges.

The second two workshops, on December 16th and 29th, were aimed at Cambodian young people. The workshop, “Prevention of Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism in Cambodia”, was a roundtable event attended by 54 university students, one of whom was a Free To Shine beneficiary. The Free To Shine participant told her Social Worker after the event that the workshop made her want to learn more about the topic and that she would be excited to attend any workshops about it in the future.The second workshop for youth was facilitated by Terre des Hommes Netherlands for 49 Free To Shine beneficiaries between the ages of 12 and 17. Participants were taught the effects sexual abuse has on individuals, how to recognise an abuser and recognise victims of abuse, how to access resources to help them in situations of abuse, and given different strategies on how to protect themselves from abuse or exploitation. Students were encouraged to share the lessons they had learned at the training with other people in their communities. Konkgea, one of Free To Shine's Social Workers, shared that the workshop was "not only useful in providing information but [also] let students discuss with each other and give their own ideas." Encouraging students to express their ideas and utilise critical thinking skills is a key component of nurturing a new generation of Cambodian leaders.

It is thanks to our generous partners that Free To Shine continues to be able to stay up to date on the latest best practices within child protection and ensure the girls and communities we work with have the knowledge and skills necessary to protect themselves and be champions for child protection in their communities.