Protecting Children with a Strong System
Before support from Save the Children, members of child protection network like Ms. Yee Khanhtamith did not have the necessary tools and capacity to do their work effectively.
Yee is a 57-year-old mother of two living in Pakxaeng district – the poorest district in Luang Prabang province. Besides having an official post as Head of Labour and Social Welfare District Office in Pakxaeng, Yee is a member of the District Child Protection and Assistance Committee (DCPAC) – a task force set up to prevent, identify, and respond to child abuse incidences.
The DCPAC consists of relevant officials from 13 different sectors such as education and sports office, labour and social welfare office, health office, justice office, security office, and so on in the district level.
Before her training on roles and responsibilities of DCPAC and how to respond to a child abuse case, Yee was not clear how to respond and thus hesitant to help children when cases occurred.
“In the past, we did not have a child protection system in my area,” said Yee. She continued, “And, I did not know how to help children at risks or vulnerable children in my district in the right way or assist them and protect them.”
Nevertheless, Yee and other committee members are now better equipped with tools and knowledge to handle cases when they happen. This is as a result of a series of training conducted by Save the Children in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and Provincial Labour and Social Welfare Department. The training sessions helped Yee and her colleagues to manage and strengthen their child protection system.
Caption: Ms. Yee (second right) is meeting with Child Protection Network members in Bouaphasaeng village, Pakxaeng district, Luang Prabang province to discuss their plan and review the reporting tools.
For example, Yee and her committee members were able assist a 16-year-old sexually abused girl and kept her safe after the incidence. The girl child was raped by 4 other children studying in the same school. The case was solved within the DCPAC committee level after both parents of the rape survivor and parents of the 4 juvenile rapists (aged 14 – 17) met and discussed under the facilitation DCPAC.
Yee explained, “This sexual abuse case was solved by DCPACs and within DCPAC level. Therefore, I can say that this system is very useful and helpful to protect and assist all children when they have some problems.”
Despite the tragic rape incidence, Yee and other DCPAC members were still fortunate to identify such rape case and offered assistance and protection of the child victim.
Now, Yee and her colleagues will continue to raise awareness on child protection in the communities and disseminate information on how to report cases. “I encouraged parents and children to tell their stories to us and can help them in time when the cases happened in their areas,” stated Yee. She concluded, “Now, I have more confidence to run this system [child protection system] in order to help and protect our children effectively and to promote their rights in our society.”
Caption: Ms. Yee (standing in the middle) is monitoring a team-building activity of members of the Child Protection Network in a village level.
Save the Children’s Strengthening Child Protection Systems to Keep Children Safe Project is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW). Besides other initiatives, the project supports the development of Child Protection and Assistance Network in communities with referral mechanism for child protection at all levels.