Lao PDR has an estimated population of 6.5 million with around 59% of the population being children and young people below the age of 25 years.
Child protection issues affecting children and youths in Laos are largely associated with poverty as well as rapid-social economic changes. These changes have resulted in a spike in rural-urban migration, meaning that children are increasingly accompanying their migrant working parents or being left behind, cared for in temples, boarding schools or orphanages, or with extended family.
According to recent statistics, 178,000 children in Laos are considered to be engaged in child labour. About two-thirds of these child labourers are involved in hazardous work, working on construction sites or in dangerous factories.
Early marriage and child-bearing are also common in most rural areas of Laos, 43% of all rural women are married before age 18, compared with just 23% in urban areas. 10% of married women gave birth before age 18, 38% before the age of 15 (UNFPA sources).
The commercial sexual exploitation of children remains a persistent yet sensitive issue in Laos with child prostitution and human trafficking being common place; poverty, and a low level of law enforcement have also led to an increase in Child Sex Tourism.
Save the Children takes a holistic view of children considering all aspects of a child while making strategic choices and setting priorities. We work alongside children to increase their awareness and understanding of their rights, support them in having their voices heard, and encourage their involvement in programme and policy development. Save the Children also works with families, other primary care givers and communities to protect and promote children’s rights.
“Strengthening Child Protection Systems to Keep Children Safe” helps to ensure that children are protected from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence through appropriate preventative and remedial interventions. Interventions at the village, district and provincial level are designed to contribute to the development of an effective and functioning provincial Child Protection. This project will enable the rights of Lao children under the national Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children (LPRC).
With government partners, children, and youths, the project seeks to initiate sustainable behaviour change amongst parents, teachers, community leaders, and children and young people themselves to protect rural and urban children from abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence.
What We Do
Save the Children establishes and trains province, district and village level Child Protection and Assistance Network members (CPNs) to support the development of response and referral mechanisms for child protection at all levels. Members of CPNs received training on identification and response, case management, case work and data collection. These members will work to prevent and respond to child abuse, neglect, and exploitation within their village, district and province.
Save the Children also conducts awareness raising activities on key child protection issues (e.g. physical and sexual violence against women and children, gender based violence, exploitation, migration and neglect) and by advocating with child and youth-led groups to protect themselves and raise awareness amongst their peers.
Where we Work
Save the Children’s Child Protection Program is active in Sayaboury and Luang Prabang provinces.