by Ngoc Bich
Over the past few days, people have been stunned and angered by the news that a young babysitter in Can Tho City tortured an 18-month-old baby to death.
On November 16, as usual, before going to work, Vo Thi Huyen sent her baby boy, Do Nhat Long, to Ho Ngoc Nho in Linh Trung Ward of HCM City's Thu Duc District to be taken care of. After receiving Long from his mother, Nho spoon fed the baby his breakfast, but Long did not want to eat. Nho angrily picked up the baby by his legs and turned him upside down in an attempt to stop his crying, accidentally dropping him on the ground.
In pain, Long sobbed even louder. Nho then stomped on the baby's chest forcefully and left him in the rest room. After some 20 minutes, she came back, finding Long lying motionless.
Even as police investigate the case, public indignation continues to rise across social networks, as this is not the only case in which children have lost their lives due to the unprofessional and irresponsible behavior by a babysitter like Nho.
I still remember three years ago when Tran Thi Phung in southern Binh Duong Province received a 24-month sentence for battering a three-year-old girl she cared for, and in 2010, a video clip was posted on social networks showing Quang Thi Kim Hoa in southern Dong Nai Province beating children on their faces while feeding them.
Noticeably, these harrowing stories have one thing in common— the parents of these unfortunate children were poor couples who were migrant workers, struggling to earn their livelihoods in a strange land. They do not have enough financial resources to send their children to well-established private schools and do not have permanent residential documents to allow them to send their children to State kindergartens.
The head of a residential area in the Linh Trung Ward admitted that migrant workers accounted for 70 per cent of its population. Recognising the parents' demand for someone to look after their children, many families open kindergartens in their homes without permission from local authorities.
Sadly, after a series of incidents, people only see that tyrants and abusers were punished. No State or local agency has claimed responsibility for the wrongdoings of such "knee-jerk" kindergartens. Phung and Hoa were imprisoned and had to pay compensation for their wicked acts. In Nho's case, lawyers said she would probably face the death penalty.
However, will the punishment help ease the pain of the grief-stricken parents? Is the punishment really threatening enough to prevent similar cases from happening in the future? Is the babysitter the only one who should take responsibility?
In response to a local newspaper, an official from the HCM City's Department of Education and Training said that the agency was only in charge of managing State-owned schools, and the establishment of family-styled kindergartens must be placed under the supervision of local People's Committees. Deputy chairman of Linh Trung Ward's People's Committee placed the fault on the department. So who is responsible?
And while waiting for authorities to acknowledge their responsibility, residents continue to suffer the risks and the pain of such unfortunate people!
Another official from the education department suggested that workers should stop sending their children to unqualified kindergartens.
However, I think that measures to prevent such pitiful incidents are not as simple as she suggested. Surely, not sending children to such kindergartens is unfeasible if taking into account their living conditions.
And, where there is a demand, there is a supply!
Nho's case is really an alarm for authorities to join hands in tightening the management of education and planning, as well as creating sustainable and safe living conditions for both workers and their children.
We cannot only offer them jobs, then let them struggle with low salaries. In the provinces, where workers often gather to work in industrial zones or large scale production factories, local authorities must require investors to reserve land for the construction of accommodations for workers and kindergartens for children.
Also, education and training departments should open courses to train and improve childcare skills for kindergarteners. The schools' facilities must be periodically checked and teachers' skills must be regularly tested.
I am pretty sure we cannot prevent child violence, which still happens here and there. Mass media also cannot discover all of it. However, in a situation where people can take control, let's take steps to control it!
Don't let pitiful stories happen and then blame each other for it! — VNS