Without Domestic Violence, Children Can Learn Effectively
"Now, I am happy to see the change in my father. Because of this change, my learning outcomes have been improving." Says thirteen-year-old Srey Leak, a student at Spean Pou primary school, Kampong Chhnang province.
Srey Leak experienced adversity early in life. She comes from a poverty-stricken family, and also experienced domestic violence in her childhood. This impacted her severely and resulted in her developing negative thoughts; she often thought about dropping out of school because of fear, and intimidation from her family.
"In the past, I rarely went to school because my father used to cause domestic violence, beat my mother and my siblings to the point of bruising and use harsh words against us," said Srey Leak. "It scared me, and I no longer wanted to come to school."
Due to ongoing domestic violence in her family, her parents did not care about Srey Leak's learning. She wanted her parents to understand the value of education, but she felt powerless to make them understand. Because of these factors, she did not study well.
In 2019, with funding support from the Save the Children Korea, Save the Children started implementing the Education with Quality and Inclusive Learning (EQUAL) project in Spean Pou primary school. One of the key activities of the project is to find children who are victims of domestic violence and to educate parents and provide counselling to end violence against children, focusing on children between kindergarten and sixth grade.
Srey Leak stated, "I was thrilled to know that there's an opportunity to help my father to change his attitude and stop using violence in my family."
She tried giving her father an invitation letter to join the consultation with the teacher and school principal. She explained the purpose of the consultation, but her father had never been interested or involved in the school before, and so he ignored the invitation.
A few months later, because of alcohol abuse, her father became seriously sick and ended up in the hospital. "The doctor told us that my father had diabetes, and told him to stop drinking; otherwise it would only make him worse," continues Srey Leak. "After several days in the hospital, his condition improved, and we brought him home again. Coming home this time, my father changed a lot."
Srey Leak gave her father the invitation for a second time, and this time her father agreed to join the meeting at the school as the other parents did. He received counselling from the teacher and school principal, and he learned about raising children in a positive way, and the negative impacts of domestic violence.
Additionally, her teacher in charge always follows up with Srey Leak to make sure her father did not use violence. If Srey Leak reports that there's conflict, her teacher will visit her home to talk with her father.
Day by day, her father has now stopped drinking alcohol and making the conflict in the family. Moreover, her father's health condition has gradually improved, which made him healthier. Beside earning support for the family, now her father takes his free time to teach her at home and reminds her to do homework. Her family has become a happy family; the children feel warmth and Srey Leak comes to school regularly and gets excellent learning outcomes.
"In the future, I would like to see all the parents in my community stop using violence, and pay attention to the children's education so that all children receive an effective education," said Srey Leak. "And [I hope] no more children are victims of violence."
*Name has been changed to protect the identity.