Community’s Perceptions and Strategies to Prevent Violence Against Children in the Home, in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia
Violence against children is a serious human rights and social and public health issue. According to World Health Organization (WHO), violence against children is “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power” (Krug, Mercy, Dahlberg & Zwi, 2002, p.5). In Cambodia, violence against children is highly prevalent. Over half of Cambodian children experience violence against children and home is the most commonly place where violence against children occurs.
This study utilizes a participatory research methodology to explore community’s perceptions and strategies to prevent violence against children in the home setting. Thirty participants, ten fathers, ten mothers and ten grandparents participated in Focus Group Discussions (FDGs) to share their perceptions, beliefs and practices relating to child discipline with respect to violence against children in home setting and discuss what the community can do to prevent violence against children in the home setting. The research used thematic analysis, and three themes were generated.
The results show that child discipline is core to help children walk on the right path. To encourage good behaviors, many participants use positive reinforcement methods while a few participants use deception, manipulation and physical punishment. However, to stop bad behavior, participants commonly give children advice accompanied with physical, and emotional punishment. Study participants were aware that using physical and emotional punishment are forms of violence against children and were keen to learn about positive and non-abusive parenting. Parents/caregivers wanted to learn some problem-solving skills and gained knowledge on child development and temperament. Parents/caregivers were concerned about the influence of alcohol abuse in violence in the home.
Three community-based strategies to prevent violence against children in the home setting were recommended by the participants. They were 1) raising community awareness about violence against children, regulations on alcohol consumption and community-based interventions.