Creating a child board and village child protection networks to combat child abuse and trafficking

At the beginning of 2005, Enfants & Developpement (E&D) in Cambodia set up a Participatory Child Protection Project with communal councils covering 126 villages. The project piloted a new initiative to intervene in child abuse and combat child trafficking issues through the establishment of Child Boards at the district level. At the time of this writing, it was too early to assess the impacts of the project, however, a high degree of success towards the goal of protecting children from being abused was anticipated due to variety of reasons. These include:

  1. the child board is active in its role and responsibility to ensure a community free from child abuse;
  2. key people and children in all the 126 target villages are involved in the effort to end child abuse;
  3. a community network involving villagers, children, and local and provincial authority has been established for intervention in case of child abuse;
  4. the child board will network with other NGOs addressing child protection issues for technical and financial support;
  5. awareness raising training on child rights for the child board and the 126 Child Protection Networks (VCPN) to improve people's understanding; and lastly
  6. the child board and the VCPN have been created by each community. Thus, they have ownership in their duties and efforts.

The Participatory Child Protection Project involved the establishment of child boards at district level with 18 members composed of six commune councilor representatives and 12 children representatives from 6 communes. Once created and trained, the child board is responsible for setting up village VCPN in all the 126 villages of the 6 communes. Each VCPN comprises 3 members—a village chief and two child representatives. The role of the child board is to provide technical support to the VCPN, and to coordinate and take actions in case of child right violations with other government or NGO agencies. The child board is also in charge of cooperating and networking with other institutions for capacity building, technical and financial supports, and joint action if necessary. The role of the VCPN is slightly different. The VCPN is responsible for disseminating child rights related information to the village through training, meeting, and drama. The VCPN also acts as an agent on child rights. If a case of child rights violation is identified, the VCPN reports to the child board for prompt actions.

The tactic is highly valuable to other organizations to learn about as it involves all levels of the community: children, villagers, local and provincial authorities, and other civil society organizations in the endeavor to bring child rights abuse to an end. In addition, there is participation from each of these levels that assure better ownership and fast/effective communication leading to better intervention. The community is involved in all steps of operation ranging from creation, implementation, and ensuring sustainability to help guarantee that people in the villages, beneficiaries, authorities and civil society in general have a shared interest in making a community free from all kinds of child rights violations.


New Tactics in Human Rights does not advocate for or endorse specific tactics, policies or issues.

What we can learn from this tactic: 
This tactic exemplifies the effectiveness of operating at all levels of society. By functioning as a united network, entire villages are able to work together to ensure that their community is free from human right abuses. Encouraging local communities to be involved in the creation and implementation of projects is beneficial for sustainability. Furthermore, it strengthens local ownership and holds the community accountable for the success of the program. 
Key components of this tactic are raising awareness of the issue and making a concrete demand for action. Information is vital for changing misconceptions and beliefs. Understanding why a particular human rights violation is wrong and the long-term effects of that violation is necessary for putting in place processes to prevent future abuses. 
This tactic encompasses many others, such as education, trainings, and forming partnerships. Tackling a large issue, like abuses of children, requires understanding of the larger context in which the issue is situated. Most often, when children’s rights are being violated, it’s because there are other rights violations at play. Understanding why particular abuses are happening is essential for formulating an appropriate and effective response. Consider how a problem is situated within a broader context, or a consequence of a larger issue.