Viet Nam News
by Khánh Linh
HÀ NỘI — Dương Thu Hiền, a fourth grader at Nhân Chính Primary School for hearing-impaired children in Hà Nội, looked attentively at a slideshow featuring a stranger using candy to persuade a little girl to follow him.
The story was among many situations likely to lead to child sexual abuse that the school, in co-operation with non-profit organisation KID+, introduced to deaf and hard-of-hearing children on Tuesday.
Next to the slideshow, two teachers were role-playing as the stranger and the little girl, using sign language to re-tell the story and how to handle such incidents.
This was the first time Hiền, as well as other 40 primary students at the school, were provided with essential knowledge about child sexual abuse, its risks and social skills to protect themselves. The three-word rule of ‘No’, ‘Go’, and ‘Tell’, which was repeatedly mentioned during the class, would help keep her and her friends out of danger.
The class was among many activities that KID+ has run for children with disabilities, who are highly vulnerable and face barriers to obtaining an equitable education.
KID+ was set up in May, 2017 as a team of young volunteers who seek support from specialists in social work, psychology and children protection to help give child sexual abuse prevention to children.
With funding from Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, the team has organised their programme for more than 400 students at three primary schools for hearing-impaired children in Hà Nội, including Xã Đàn, Nhân Chính and Hy Vọng (Hope) since this March. Children have been taught about child sexual abuse prevention and sex education through group discussion, game shows and drawing competitions.
Nguyễn Thị Trang, the project’s co-ordinator, said education on child sexual abuse prevention was still limited among children with disabilities. Among the three schools the team had run their programme in, only one had talked about the knowledge with their students.
“They are children who often can’t speak or their speech is not well-developed. I’ve had many conversations with parents whose children were hearing-impaired in Hà Nội and Quảng Bình Province. Most spent little time trying to talk to their kids when they were little. When their kids grew up, they could hardly communicate with their kids as they did not know sign language”, she said.
“This has created a big gap between parents and children. Thus, they would keep silent if they unfortunately became victims of child sexual abuse,” she said.
Due to their vulnerability, children with disabilities face high risk of being victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Figures from the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs in 2016 showed that more than 1,210 cases of sexual abuse children were reported, and 84 per cent of the victims were girls.
In the first eight months of last year, 716 cases were reported, and up to 92 per cent of the victims were girls.
On average, three cases of child sexual abuse were reported each day.
According to the World Health Organisation, children with disabilities faced three times higher rates of being abused than their peers.
Trang said these children needed to be equipped with knowledge to recognise and address child sexual abuse.
Trang said sign language was the only method for hearing-impaired children to communicate. Thus, the team needed support from teachers for lessons as they were close to their students and knew the best way to make them understand about the lessons. The team has organised training courses for teachers improve the knowledge and skills of organizing class activities with the training from experts.
Linh Thị Sơn, teacher at Nhân Chính Primary School for hearing-impaired children said that it would be very difficult for students to study child sexual abuse by themselves due to a shortage of learning resources.
The training module and the animation stories, with the support of short and simple words and sign language, made the 180 minute-long lesson easier and more interesting.
“They (students) get the concept much easier as the teaching methods have been modified to fit the learning style of the hearing-impaired children. They can tell the risks and know how to protect themselves from danger. That’s the most important thing,” she said.
Sơn cited the rule of ‘No’, ‘Go’ and ‘Tell’ as an example. The rule was easy to remember for her students.
Trang, the project co-ordinator, said that they wanted their project to contribute to the development of the community in a stable way.
She said the language barrier was the biggest problem between deaf people and others. Most parents even did not know how to communicate with sign language.
As a result, the project designed classes for parents to improve their knowledge to protect, better take care and together with schools to educate their kids.
Trang said that the team planned to bring more classes to children with disabilities in the future. In July, the team will talk about child sexual abuse to blind children at Nguyễn Đình Chiều Secondary School in Hà Nội.
This means more students will be taught how to protect themselves. — VNS