Two weeks after two boys were placed in the custody of the provincial authorities after they confessed to the attempted rape of a 6-year-old neighbor, they were returned home to their families on Monday afternoon.
The boys, aged 11 and 13 and therefore too young to be prosecuted as adults, were refused long-term care at Battambang City’s National Borey Children Orphanage 2—the only facility in the province suitable to house them—due to fears from the orphanage’s management that the boys would be a bad influence on other children.
However, they spent two weeks at the center, as the provincial social affairs department was too busy to arrange meetings with their parents and community authorities that needed to be held before they could be returned home.
“We needed to talk to the people in the community to make sure the boys would be safe after they returned back home,” Hout Samnang, a department official, explained on Monday.
Phoung Sith, chief children’s health officer at the social affairs department, said that local officials and the parents of the victim had been informed of the boys’ return to Dak Sorsor village and were comfortable with their presence.
“We brought both boys to O’Mal commune hall to declare to authorities that we had returned them to their parents,” he said, adding that the village chief, commune chief and commune police, along with the boy’s parents and the parents of the victim, were all included in efforts to reintegrate the two back into the community.
“The boys’ parents and authorities will advise and monitor both boys to look for signs of bad behavior, and then authorities can call to inform me,” Mr. Sith said, explaining that in such circumstances they would be taken back into the custody of the social affairs department.
Despite her initial concerns, the director of the orphanage, Nou Somaly, said on Monday that both boys had been well behaved during their two-week stay.
“We advised them on behavior and morality and we found they are as normal as any boys in the center,” she said.