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Violence Against Children, a Growing Problem in Viet Nam, Says UNICEF-CPFC Children’s Forum.

Hanoi, 3 June 2005: A Children’s Forum on Violence against Children, has heard details about the growing instances of abuse and violence towards children, as well as children witnessing increasing cases of domestic violence.

Forty-six children ( 26 boys and 20 girls) ranging in age from 11 to 18 years, coming from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Quang Ngai, Hue, Ninh Binh and Quanh Ninh, participated in the forum jointly organized by the Committee on Population, Family and Children (CPFC) and UNICEF, in collaboration with Save the Children Sweden and Plan International. Participants included street children and children in conflict with the law as well as school children.

The forum listened to personal experiences related by the children. One child described how he had been beaten by his drunk father because he was not earning enough money. He left home and was forced to live on the street and soon came to the attention of the police.  Another child described how her best friend was forced to have sexual intercourse with an adult man the same age as her father. The children ranked what forms of abuse were most common and these were physical abuse, followed by emotional abuse, bullying and sexual abuse and working in hazardous workplaces. They also ranked where violence most commonly occurs and this was in the home, followed by school, on the streets and at work.

“Violence and abuse are unacceptable situations that many children and adolescents face every day in Viet Nam,” said Ms Le Hong Loan, Chief of UNICEF’s Child Protection section. “Too often violence and abuse leads children to live on the street, placing them at high risk of sexual and labour exploitation, HIV/AIDS and conflict with the law.. The Vietnamese government is to be congratulated in supporting this forum and encouraging the active participation of children.  This forum will contribute to raising awareness of the issue, discussing strategies for the prevention of and responses to violence and abuse as well as developing recommendations for the global UN study,” Ms Le Hong Loan continued.

Recommendations from the Children’s Forum will contribute to a global United Nations Study on Violence against Children, the first report of its kind to draw attention to this problem. The study has been driven by increasing evidence that children are subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse in homes, schools, institutions, on the streets and in the workplace – a situation contrary to the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which advocates that every child has the right to a life free of violence. *

Two children, Tien Huy Hoang, 14 years and Hoang Thi Hue, 14 years have been selected, by their peers, to attend the East Asia and Pacific Regional Consultation on Violence against Children in Bangkok from 14-16 June 2005, along with an adult chaperone, NGOs and government delegates.  This three-day meeting will discuss experience, evidence and research from countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, along with best practices and key strategies for prevention, intervention and recovery. The findings will then be incorporated into the global study being put together in Geneva and which is due to report in October 2006.

Since 2003, UNICEF, in cooperation with CPFC, Save the Children Sweden and Plan International, has been working on a number of studies to assess the extent of violence and abuse of children in Viet Nam. One study of 2,800 participants (mainly children) in the three provinces of An Giang, Lao Cai and Hanoi, in 2003, found that physical punishment (beating) was common at home and at school, as was verbal abuse and bullying and the witnessing of domestic violence. Sexual abuse, in particular the practice of older relatives fondling the penises of young boys, was also reported.

In 2005, UNICEF and its partners will continue to:
i) strengthen the child protection reporting system and develop specialized psycho-social services for children who have been abused or are at risk of being abused;
ii) support the establishment and training of networks of social workers and counselors;
iii) build the capacity of government and service providers to identify and respond to cases of child violence and abuse;
iv) encourage further efforts to raise awareness in the community and among children and to improve the accountability of local agencies, communities and families to care for and protect children and young people.
v) Advocate for the Government to develop and pass a single, coherent law on child abuse and which broadens the definition of child abuse to include all forms of physical and emotional abuse.

* Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child contains general provisions against violence/abuse of children: “States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child”.

For further information, please contact:

- Ms Sue Spencer, UNICEF Communications Section, tel: (04) 942 5706 ext 210 or 09123 91053
- Mr Trinh Anh Tuan, UNICEF Communication Section, tel: (04) 942 5706 ext 234 or 0903 296393
- Ms Julie Bergeron, UNICEF Child Protection Section, tel: (04) 942 5706 ext 276 or 0903 601408




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