Under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Guidelines , and many national laws (including the Cambodian Law), institutionalization is meant to be the very last resort. In Cambodia, and other well-traveled tourist areas, it is increasingly becoming the first.

More than 75% of children who are currently in the care of these institutions have at least one living parent (Take time to read the recent UNICEF and Cambodian Government report on orphanages in Cambodia to learn more)

They are separated from their families due to economic vulnerability, and the demand from donors and travelers for more and more orphanages. Similar cases of orphanages being established purely as a response to tourist and donor demand abound throughout the developing world, including Thailand, Indonesia, Haiti, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The practices of many orphanages are in complete contravention of Child Rights, especially those that encourage tourist visits, that allow “volunteers” to visit and play with children for short periods of time, and which use children as a means to profit.
Many orphanages are run as money-making scams, and are directly targeted at tourists.