Speaking Out! What do boys in Cambodia want to say to you?

When we carried out the research into sexual abuse of males in Cambodia, we asked boys and young men what messages they had for others in NGOs, communities and families. We wanted to honour their stories and their courage and give them a voice so long denied. In our opinion the boys and young we met are the experts – they know what they need, so it is important that we listen!

Over time we will share more stories and comments where boys and young men wish to share their ideas with you.

Some of their statements from the original research study are shared below.

"Don’t ever say that it’s only girls who are victims; it’s boys too, so you all have to be careful. Don’t let them go out with others so much and do not think that they are “just boys”!"

"Some people think that we are gays because we sleep with the same sex … I wonder why they think we are gays. We dare not study in that school again and we flee to the other school because of the shame … It’s hard to study when we are reminded of this issue. It’s a problem for society. It happens most to girls but boys are abused too …"

"Some people blame me and say that I do not pay attention to my studies, but the fact is that I can not study… I find it hard to concentrate. I am not lazy … I don’t want to tell them my problems because I am afraid they will blame me more."

"When a boy experiences frightening things, it makes it hard for him to be good at studying. The children who experience sexual abuse and rape … all feel despair and some cannot study at all because they remember this kind of thing forever … Even when they grow up it still remains in their minds."

What boys say they need:

"We can tell someone if they have knowledge, but they must not use our issue for kidding and joking … They must empathize with us and maybe give us ideas and opinions to help us solve problems. They must be a reliable person and keep confidentiality …"

"Staff must talk gently to the children when they do something wrong; don’t use violence. Children should be listened to and considered in decision making."

"We need motivation from the family [parents]—do not blame the child for what happened."

"I’ve never heard about counselling … but if someone can ask about our feelings, then we can get better."

"I need others to help me … and want a place for boys!
The important thing is for the person we speak to not to break confidentiality …"

"Do not abuse each other and please do not allow this abuse to happen any more."

"After a boy is abused, don’t change your behaviour; treat him like normal!"

"Public, NGOs, parents and carers: Don’t gossip about boys but console them, pay attention to them, care for them—don’t criticise but motivate them!"

"Staff: Pay attention to us … Ask us if we are fine."

"Mothers and uncles: Don’t be careless with your sons; don’t allow them to go out too much—boys can be abused too!"

As the project develops, this page will continue to provide opportunities for the boys and men we help to share their thoughts and ideas with you about their needs and suggestions for support and prevention.

Others' comments can be read in the full text of the English version of the research “I thought it could never happen to boys” and the Khmer summary, each of which can be downloaded from the ‘Education, Learning and Support’ page.


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