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Our Mission

Our Mission

" First Step Cambodia works in partnership towards strong child protection mechanisms, empowering children to be free from sexual abuse and living in safe and nurturing families.

We advocate for and engage with boys to address harmful social norms and gender issues affecting boys"


Boys face an uphill struggle to receive support, yet they are in a situation where they need our support the most. Global evidence suggests that at least one in six males experiences some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime, a number confirmed by research carried out in Cambodia (UNDP, 2013). Moreover, a meta-analysis in the region confirmed that the median prevalence rates are higher for boys than girls, while less than 6% of boys seek help after sexual abuse, compared to 40% of girls (UNICEF, 2012 and 2014). Boys who are sexually assaulted may experience lasting stigma. They are often expelled from and blamed by their family and community, and receive little or no support (FSC, 2019).


In addition, research indicates that up to 40% of child abuse is carried out by older children (Snyder, H. N., 2000). The regional ‘Partners for Prevention’ research (2013) concluded that amongst the sample of men who admitted sexual abuse or rape, over 50% committed their first offense under the age of 18, with a significant percentage under the age of 15. First Step provides direct support services to both children affected by and children displaying sexually harmful behavior. Providing a quick response and direct support services to children who display these behaviors, in collaboration with the child’s family, has resulted in a change to healthy age-appropriate behavior in most cases.

Supporting a child displaying SHB:: a case study

The majority of international organizations that support or run gender-specific programs, focus their resources on supporting girls and women. We recognize the many challenges and issues girls and women face in life. However, as a result, the issues affecting boys are insufficiently addressed and specialized services for boys are limited in developing countries such as Cambodia. First Step provides its services to both boys and girls but remains the only organization in Cambodia that advocates for boys’ rights and is specialized in meeting the needs of boys who are survivors of sexual abuse and boys who display sexually harmful behavior. 

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Why We're Here
Why We're Here


No child should be exposed to violence, abuse or neglect. Yet, in Cambodia, one in two children has experienced severe beating and over five percent of Cambodian children experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday (UNICEF, 2014). Poverty, substance abuse, lack of positive parenting, domestic violence, absence of sex education, lack of knowledge on the issues in communities and insufficient protection and reporting mechanisms are some of the main factors at play. Combined with traditional societal norms and a lack of understanding what qualifies as sexually inappropriate behavior, we believe that the prevalence of sexual abuse and sexually harmful behavior remains significantly underreported (FSC, 2019).

First Step Cambodia has been on the forefront of bringing change to Cambodia. Besides our core direct support program, we build the capacity of professionals, raise awareness in schools and communities, conduct research on child sexual abuse within the country, and support the government in improving and developing child protection systems, social work standards, policies, and much more.

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Why We're Here
Why We're Here
Our Programs


We aim to increase the understanding, knowledge, and awareness among all those who directly engage with children; including schoolteachers, students, parents, caregivers, villagers, and relevant service providers, and, of course, children themselves. To achieve this, we have developed a range of informative and educational resources and tools. These are delivered in a variety of workshops and forums to both children and adults and distributed for use in organizations and community settings.

We see strong partnerships and networks as the key to success and sustainable solutions. Our team facilitates and contributes to NGO networks and partnership meetings to raise awareness and improve the services for our beneficiaries. Learn More

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  • Developing and disseminating informational and educational resources and tools

  • Increasing the knowledge of adults and children through workshops and training

  • Putting the issues of child sexual abuse, especially boys, high on the agenda through our networks and government collaborations

Our Programs

Capacity Building

We provide specialist training, learning and consultation opportunities to improve the capacity of professionals to deliver quality services to children and families affected by sexual abuse, harmful sexual behaviors, and psychosocial issues. We offer a wide range of training programs; including Social Work with Child Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Case Management, Working with Family, Social Work Practice, Alcohol Abuse, and Sexually Harmful Behavior by Children.


We strive to base our social work and program design on sound research. As research into the issues of sexual abuse, especially related to boys, is scarce in Cambodia, FSC has been leading and contributing to evidence-based research related to the sexual abuse of boys and sexually harmful behavior displayed by children in Cambodia and the wider region. We use our findings to increase the knowledge of and awareness among families, professionals, and government in Cambodia. Learn More and consult our training opportunities.

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  • Specialist training to improve the capacity of professionals working with children

  • Our key ‘Social Work with Child Survivors of Sexual Abuse’ training develops the knowledge and skills of social workers over 29 training days

  • Conducting research into the issues related to boys affected by sexual abuse and children displaying sexually harmful behavior in Cambodia

Capacity Building

Direct Support

Our social workers provide regular counseling and therapeutic services to children for a period of up to 24 months and are always available in times of need. In most cases, we are confronted with vulnerable families and poverty-related issues. We maximize children’s chances of recovering from their experiences and living in a safe and supportive home environment by increasing the family’s knowledge, involvement and capacity, and by providing practical support: assistance in court, help in transportation, access to education or vocational training, food security, health care, and income generation. To achieve this, FSC uses a strong network of partner organizations. Learn more or read our case studies.

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  • Counseling and therapeutic services up to 24 months

  • Building a safe and supportive home environment by increasing the knowledge, involvement, and capacity of the child’s family and supporters

  • Holistic approach, providing practical support to the children and their family

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