In the long run, the Government should allocate money for child protection activities. Meanwhile, we also need to complete our legal system in child care and protection from sexually abuse acts or exploitation.— Photo nhandan.com.vn
Nguyễn Thanh Trúc, an expert in child protection of UNICEF, Hà Nội, talks to Nhân dân cuối tuần (People’s Weekend) on measures to prevent abuse of children.
How do you respond to increasing reports of mental and physical abuse of children recently?
In Việt Nam, we have many offices and organisations involved in child protection. However, we still don’t have a good network at the grassroots level with capable staff to either detect or assess the seriousness of child abuse cases and then transfer them to help centres.
According to foreign experiences, we need a network of social workers at the grassroots level whose duties are to focus on preventive measures and response against cases of child spiritual and physical abuse. Their mission is to protect the child’s rights concerning their physical and mental health.
In 2010, the Vietnamese Government adopted a proposal for the development of social work in 2010-2020, known as Proposal 32.
Under Proposal 32, each commune, ward and township should have at least two social workers. Every month, these workers will receive a sum of money from the Government budget. But they are not on the Government’s official payroll.
Many Vietnamese children have been abused while the culprits have seemingly not been properly punished. What should the authorities do in such cases?
First of all we should talk about the Vietnamese Child Law. Under that law, the definition of a child is a person under 16 years old. However, under the Vietnamese Constitution, an adult is a person who is above 18 years old. These two definitions have caused quite a lot of challenges for authorities to handle as some kids are not yet adults, but they aren’t children any more. They’re easily prone to sexual abuse and exploitation.
In our society, there remain many forms of physical abuse or exploitation against children which are not fully covered in our law. Meanwhile in society, corporal punishment against children is common and the culprits are still at large.
In my opinion, it is time for Việt Nam to have a family court and a juvenile court as in other countries. Luckily, recently, Hồ Chí Minh City and Đồng Tháp Province have established a court to handle cases in which juveniles are involved.
What solutions or measures do we need to prevent child abuse?
We need to complete our child protection systems, particularly at the grassroots level. What’s more important is to put the Proposal 32 on the child protection program into real life. At the same time, we should have a competent group of people to work in the programme to protect children from sexual abuse and corporal punishment.
We also need professional services in child care protection established at the district level. If it is possible, we should encourage foreign organisations to join our children protection activities.
In the long run, the Government should allocate money for child protection activities. Meanwhile, we also need to complete our legal system in child care and protection from sexually abuse acts or exploitation.
Last but not least, in the near future, we’ll need staff specialised in child affairs, particularly in fighting sex abuse, exploitation and trafficking._VNS