Ha Nhi ethnic minority children play on a see-saw in Y Ty Commune, Bat Xat District in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Hoa
HA NOI — Viet Nam needs to build a child protection system that paves the way to long-term, sustainable solutions to prevent the abuse of children, says Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.
The minister also identified two tasks crucial to ensuring a safer environment for children – especially as the public becomes more worried about an increase in their abuse – while speaking at a national workshop to discuss the prevention and control of the abuse of children in Ha Noi yesterday,
These were to improve the quality of staff working with children throughout the country and the establishment of social services, public and private, that systematically, continuously and professionally protect children.
Public Security Ministry's statistics show that on average, more than 100 incidents of child murder; 800 of sexual abuse and about 50 kidnappings are detected and punished each year.
Education and Training Ministry figures recorded about 1,600 incidents of violence in and out schools involving about 3,200 students last year.
Child Care and Protection Department director Nguyen Hai Huu told the workshop that relatives, neighbours, acquaintances and even parents were reported for having abused children. A survey of 13 Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces in the past year found that children under 6 accounted for 13.per cent of the victims; children 6 to 13, 37.2 per cent; and children 13 to 16, 49 per cent.
Participants at the workshop agreed lack of awareness and a safe friendly environment for children together with a shortage of social services and a child protection system were the reasons the abuse continued.
Public Security Ministry representative Nguyen Chi Viet told the workshop that a more comprehensive, detailed law to protect children was needed.
It should include regulations governing the responsibility of each agency; define the gravity of the offences; provide protection for witnesses or those who report abuse and the establishment of investigation procedures and special courts for children.
The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, had worked with the ministry to establish investigation rooms suited to children, he said.
UNICEF Viet Nam representative Graig Burgess told the workshop that it was a critical and appropriate time for Viet Nam to develop a complete child-protection system.
The system should clearly define the legal role of relevant agencies in child care and protection as well as provide a clear definition of abuse and violence against children.
It should also include a reporting system with well-trained people.
The UN representative said child protection was an integral part of Viet Nam's social welfare policies, services for the disadvantaged or those to improve public's physical and mental health.
UNICEF would help Viet Nam implement suitable measures and take advantage of international support, including perfecting its law system for children and train staff to ensure the safety and development opportunities for its children.
Representatives of provinces, cities and international organisations, including Plan International, the Children's Fund and World Vision, attended the one-day workshop. — VNS