CHILDREN POVERTY & STREET CHILDREN IN CAMBODIA

The sight of young street children in Cambodia picking up litter to recycle for money or begging on the streets can have you quickly reaching into your pocket to give a hand-out. Or, as has been the case for many, signing up to volunteer or even setting up a charitable organisation to try to tackle the disadvantaged and empower the marginalised. However, each of these well-intended actions can often do more harm than good for those you are trying to help.

With one of the highest number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) per capita in the world, and a frightening number of residential care homes set up by foreigners for poor children who are not orphans, volunteer opportunities and poverty-tourism abound in Cambodia. Here are some tips:

TIP 1 – THINK!

CHILDREN ARE NOT TOURIST ATTRACTIONS – LET’S NOT TREAT THEM LIKE THEY ARE.

Children living or studying in schools, orphanages or slums shouldn’t be exposed to tourist visits. These places are not zoos. Imagine a bus full of foreigners visiting schools in your home country. Would you find this acceptable? Travel ChildSafe – Put child protection first and do not visit these places.

Tip 2 – THINK!

VOLUNTEERING WITH CHILDREN FEELS GOOD BUT COULD BE HARMFUL – LOOK FOR BETTER WAYS TO HELP THEM.

Helping street children in Cambodia directly can cause problems because you don’t know the local culture and laws. For instance, never take a child back to your hotel room – it’s dangerous for both you and the child. Travel ChildSafe – When you see a child in need, the best thing to do is to contact local professionals. Call a child protection hotline, contact a local organization or call the police. You won’t bother anyone – it is their job to check and help. Just call. You could save their life and give them a first chance to build their future.

TIP 3 -THINK!

CHILDREN PAY A PRICE FOR YOUR GENEROSITY – DON’T GIVE TO BEGGING CHILDREN.

When you give money, food or gifts to begging street children in Cambodia, you encourage them to continue begging, which prevents them from going to school and locks them into a cycle of poverty. Travel ChildSafe – There are better ways to support children and youth: use businesses with a social impact, such as training restaurants and shops, or donate to organizations supporting children and their families.

TIP 4 – THINK!

PROFESSIONALS KNOW BEST – CALL THEM IF A CHILD NEEDS HELP.

Helping children directly can cause problems because you don’t know the local culture and laws. For instance, never take a child back to your hotel room – it’s dangerous for both you and the child. Travel ChildSafe – When you see a child in need, the best thing to do is to contact local professionals. Call a child protection hotline, contact a local organization or call the police. You won’t bother anyone – it is their job to check and help. Just call. You could save their life and give them a first chance to build their future.

TIP 5 – THINK!

SEX WITH CHILDREN IS A CRIME – REPORT CHILD SEX TOURISM.

Sex tourism involving children is a devastating reality. It happens in hotels, in bars, etc. You may also be offered to have sex with children. Travel ChildSafe – When you see such a situation, don’t put yourself at risk. Call a child protection hotline, contact a local organization or call the police so immediate action can be taken to protect the child and investigate the situation. Find a list of hotlines here.

TIP 6 – THINK!

CHILDREN SHOULD NOT BE AT WORK INSTEAD OF SCHOOL – REPORT CHILD LABOUR.

Some children sell goods at tourist sites or offer their services as guides. Others are hired by tourism businesses like hotels or restaurants, and this is a problem when it hurts their education and development. Travel ChildSafe – Do not buy goods or use services offered by children. If you think that a business employs underage children and prevents them from going to school, call a child protection hotline, contact a local organization or call the police. They will check the child’s situation – many children are just helping out their parents after school, but some may be exploited.

TIP 7 – THINK!

PROTECT CHILDREN – BE A CHILDSAFE TRAVELER AND PROTECT STREET CHILDREN IN CAMBODIA

ChildSafe raises awareness about how you can help children during your trip. It also trains and certifies many businesses in the tourism industry (such as hotels, travel agencies, restaurants, and taxi services) to actively protect children. Travel ChildSafe – Use ChildSafe-certified businesses when planning and throughout your trip to avoid being involved in harmful situations for children. Every action described in these tips can make a big difference. Join the movement and together, let’s protect children! For more information go to https://thinkchildsafe.org/7-tips-for-travelers/

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