by Khanh Van
One week since four boys drowned on a flooded construction site in Tu Liem District, the accident still divides public opinion.
Most people are blaming the investor, the contractor and the construction company who, perhaps, have to bear the major part of brunt for not setting up sufficient danger signs.
There are some, however, who think that the blame should also fall on the shoulders of the parents for not teaching their children about protecting themselves against risks and dangers.
Fire, water, electricity, social evils and unhealthy games, for example, include some high-risk elements against which kids need to be guarded, according to Dang Thi Le Thuy, a teacher at Smile's House, a Hanoian life skills training.
"Adults should help children be aware of danger and equip them with basic skills to help them look after themselves," she said, adding that, "Not that many parents pay enough attention to teaching their kids such skills however."
"Regarding the accident, it is clear that the children lacked the necessary awareness to protect themselves in a risky situation," she noted.
With an array of tricky situations surrounding them on a daily basis, most Vietnamese children have poor survival skills.
"The more modern a society, the more dangerous and risky it becomes. Parents often warn their children against dangerous situations, but forget to explain to them exactly why and how they need to be careful in the first place," Thuy said.
Many parents often had the habit of trying to protect their children instead of teaching them to go it alone, she explained.
I remember the way a Chinese mother taught her daughter life skills based on a book she wrote called Harvard Girl Liu Yiting, published in 2000. It describes how the mother raised her daughter to be accepted to Harvard University and is seen as a "manual" for child-rearing and early education.
Liu Weihua, the mother, said that it had been important to guide her daughter in how to deal with risky or dangerous situations.
"One time, I found my little baby sitting on a stair. Looking scared, she did not know how to climb down. Instead of rushing to her rescue, I tried to take it easy, coming close to her and instructing her on how to climb down by herself," the diary reads.
Nguyen Thuy Linh, the mother of a two-year-old boy from Cau Giay District, said that her boy was very naughty and always tried to touch or open dustbins, rice-cookers, drawers and sockets.
"We've scolded him many times and prohibited him from touching anything dangerous, after which he seems even more determined," she said.
"My father once put my son's hand near the rice-cooker to show him how hot it gets and he immediately retracted his hand. It really worked. He has never tried to touch the rice-cooker again," Linh added.
It is clear that children often learn by experience.
My nine-year-old nephew used to walk around barefoot when playing outside despite not being allowed to. He stopped doing so after stepping in a piece of glass however.
Allowing children to learn from experience required close supervision, Thuy stressed.
"It is possible to teach children survival skills via games in which they face risky situations in order to try and deal with them," she said.
Later is better than never. It is not the first time that children have drowned and it will surely not be the last. All we can hope for is that children will one day be equipped enough to avoid similar situations. — VNS