Protecting children through Positive Parenting
While sitting under a small zinc-roofed house, Srey Mao expresses the enjoyment she feels when seeing the changes in her grandfather. Srey Mao, a 7-year-old girl, used to live in a family household that was violent.
Srey Mao is studying in Grade 1 at a primary school in Prey Veng. She lives with her grandparents, located around 30 kilometres from Prey Veng town. Her grandparents sell fish, shellfish and vegetables to support the family. Srey Mao’s grandfather took her in after her parents divorced when she was very little.
She used to live in a violent household and has never felt much warmth from her family. Her grandparents frequently fought with each other when they were under the influence of alcohol. Also, her neighbours did not like her family and they experienced discrimination. Sometimes Srey Mao’s grandfather used to be violent towards Srey Mao. She was frequently yelled at when she did not help her grandfather complete house chores. When she had problems, she did not dare to tell her grandparents as she thought that if she told them, they would shout and hit her.
In addition, her grandparents did not care much about her learning. She experienced a lack of encouragement to learn at home, and the atmosphere in Srey Mao’s school was not conducive to learning.
In 2017, with funding support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Save the Children and its partner, Women Organization for Modern Economy and Nursing (WOMEN), a parenting group was established in Srey Mao’s commune along with support from Village Volunteers. The group’s objective was to train parents and caregivers on the importance of positive parenting and protecting children from any forms of abuse and encouraging parents to play an active and positive role in their children’s upbringing. Srey Mao’s grandfather was invited to join the group. He applied the lessons learned with his granddaughter and shared what he had learned in parenting group meetings with his family.
Gradually, Srey Mao’s family started changing their behaviours in day-to-day life. Srey Mao’s grandfather stopped drinking alcohol and started using sweet and positive words with Srey Mao. They encouraged her, inspired her to study more and spent time teaching her so she now feels closer to them than before. Srey Mao now helps her grandparents to do house chores.
In the future, Srey Mao would not like to see children in violent households like she had experienced before. She would like to see all parents join in parenting meetings as she now sees the benefits of learning about positive parenting in her grandfather.