For many of the families we help, Children’s Future is the last and only line of defense against domestic abuse.To enhance the protection of children and families, our social workers intervene on such issues with an adaption of the Signs of Safety, a cutting edge framework for child protection, and try to prevent further harm as much as possible.
In Cambodia, police and local authorities often fail to consistently intervene on crime and abuse, or to assume the responsibility of ensuring that people in their community are safe and perpetrators are prosecuted. Crime that involves domestic violence, mental illness, or substance abuse is often overlooked altogether, and the victims are left without protection or justice.
In recent months, Children’s Future has been collaborating with a mother who was regularly beaten and abused by her husband who, besides being affected by substance abuse, had recently developed signs of mental illness. Episodes of violence and threats increased and the violence he used towards his wife and children became more severe every time. He regularly threatened to kill his wife and children with a knife if they did not comply with his requests or moods. After two girls fled from their house and ran to Children’s Future to ask for help, we moved the family temporarily, but they (and our social workers) were still stalked by the father who continued to make death threats.
Police, other local authorities and relatives knew about this and were concerned about the safety of the family, but did not take any action.
Seeing this, we initiated a case conference, inviting local authorities and relatives of the family and used the adapted Signs of Safety form to request to all those involved to help the children stay safe and be protected. Finally, because of the efforts of our social workers and child well-being managers, the commune leaders, police and relatives were convinced and agreed that they had a responsibility, and they took action (they shared the money necessary to take Dad to a mental institution forcibly), and to help mom and her children get back on their feet.
Children’s Future has created adapted Signs of Safety plans for over 60 families in the past year. They are used as a sustainable approach to involve parents, extended family and teachers or neighbors to contribute to the safety of the children in their family and community without depending on our organization.