UNICEF Cambodia has launched “Let’s Chat”, a digital campaign to prevent online child exploitation. The initiative, a partnership between UNICEF Cambodia and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY), could reach over two million young individuals.

Launched in June, this campaign targets online predatory grooming practices that expose children to sexual exploitation. UNICEF’s mission is to reduce the risks faced by Cambodian adolescents online.

Groomers often hide on social media, pretending to be young people to gain the trust of their victims. Once trust is established, they manipulate and abuse their victims, sometimes leading to physical harm.

“Let’s Chat” is designed to educate adolescents about these practices, helping them to recognise grooming behaviour and teaching them what to do if they or their friends are targeted. The campaign, hosted on UNICEF Cambodia’s social media platforms, anticipates reaching over two million young people in three months.

The campaign responds to data from the 2022 “Disrupting Harm in Cambodia” report, which found that 11 per cent of internet-using young people in Cambodia aged 12-17 had experienced online sexual exploitation. The report further revealed that 16 per cent of youth encountered sexual comments that made them uncomfortable, with 31 per cent of these incidents happening via social media.

Will Parks, UNICEF Cambodia representative, underscored the need for open dialogue.

“It is crucial we create accessible, informative, and compassionate approaches if we hope to create effective change and lower the incidents of risk,” he said.

The campaign involves a group of four friends sharing their experiences online. Their stories, presented as chat-style videos, each focus on a hypothetical scenario. Posts accompanying these videos provide more information, resources, and action steps, including a child protection helpline (+855 92 311 511).