Child protection





The impressive increase in socio-economic development during the past 20 years has put new pressures on the Vietnamese family. Rapid economic development and urbanisation have been accompanied by a widening gap between the rich and the poor, increasing the migration of people from rural areas to urban cities and across the borders to find work. This has resulted in increased unemployment, family break-ups, crime rates and the erosion of traditional values which has, in turn, contributed to an increased number of abandoned, neglected, abused and exploited children as well as youth crimes.

Children are often on the frontline of vast changes. In 2010 the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) [1] reported that more than 4.3 million children were living in “special circumstances,” which is nearly 18 per cent of all Vietnamese boys and girls. It includes 1,353,458 children with disabilities, nearly300,000 children affected by HIV and AIDS with 5,704 children living with HIV, 126,248 abandoned children and orphans without care of their biological parents, 28,910 children working in hazardous conditions, more than 21,230 street children, 1,805 abused children and 21,500 children living in institutions. According to the Ministry of Public Security, in 2011 there were 13,600 juveniles in conflict with the law [2]. It should be noted that there is a lack of a comprehensive data monitoring system and reliable data on many child protection issues, including data on child prostitution, child trafficking or maltreatment which are significant, without the exact number able to be determined.

These problems are intensified by the absence of a strong and effective child protection system, including the lack of professional social work and protection services with the capacity to respond adequately to the needs of vulnerable children for prevention, support and protection. In addition, coordination amongst related protection service providers or the necessary “continuum of services” is missing. The existing services for prevention, early identification, intervention, referral to rehabilitative and specialised services and follow-ups are either not in place or fragmented and unregulated. At a sub-national level, where the needs of poor families and children are particularly dire, social work and protection services are provided by volunteers and untrained workers undertaking complex tasks without the necessary skills. Viet Nam’s justice system is still very rigid and lacks adequate capacity and established programmes to address the rights of child victims of violence, abuse and exploitation, as well as children in conflict with the law and their needs for protection.


UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme supports the creation of comprehensive child protection systems at national and sub-national levels. The Programme has three strategic components. The first component supports the development of the overall Child Protection Human and Service structures, while the second component focuses on the development of Special Protection Measures for the Most Vulnerable Children, including exploited and trafficked children, children deprived of parental care, children affected by HIV and AIDS, and children with disabilities. The third component focuses on the establishment of a Child-Friendly Justice System, in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other key international standards, to protect and support children in contact with the justice system, including children in conflict with the law, child victims and witnesses.

The following key results will be achieved at national and sub-national levels in 2012-2016

1. Strengthened Child Protection Human and Service Structures

Improved knowledge base, research and monitoring system. The Programme supports the generation of evidence and knowledge to support the development of child protection-related legislation and policies. The Programme also supports the development of comprehensive information and data monitoring systems on child protection at national and sub-national levels.

Improved child protection legal and regulatory frameworks. The Programme provides technical expertise and advocates legal reform to domesticate child protection international law and standards, along with the allocation of adequate resources for the effective implementation of local child protection laws and policies. The Programme also supports the integration of child protection goals and targets into national and sub-national socio-economic development plans and strategies.

Improved child protection structures and service systems. The Programme advocates and provides technical expertise for strengthening child protection structures and improving the human resource capacities of social welfare workers. Special efforts are made to support the development of the social work profession, including defining professional standards, roles, functions and tasks of social workers in various sectors such as education, health, justice and social welfare. In parallel, the Programme supports the development of child welfare and child protection services, such as community-based child protection systems, social work service centres and counselling services within communities, hospitals and schools. The Programme also throws its weight behind strengthening MOLISA’s capacity on inter-sectoral coordination, brokering for children and inspections related to child rights issues. Technical expertise is also provided to relevant ministries, the National Assembly and Political Party committees, and Political, Social, and Professional Mass Organisations (PSPMOs), local NGOs to monitor and investigate complaints regarding children’s rights violations and to ensure the quality of protection services.

Improved protective environment for children. The Programme backs communication activities to increase awareness and understanding of Government staff, communities, families and children on child protection and their respective rights and duties. A number of activities to increase birth registration and change harmful social norms and practices, such as child marriage, child abuse and violence are also supported. Life skills education is championed and child participation mainstreamed in child protection activities. As part of improving the protective environment for children, the Programme is behind the development and implementation of a child injury prevention national policy and various programmes. Advocacy and technical assistance are provided to improve the coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the National Plan of Action for Children, 2012-2020.

 2. Special Protection Implemented to Protect the most Vulnerable Groups of Children

Improved prevention and response to trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and child labour. The Programme backs the strengthening of legal and regulatory frameworks for the protection of child victims of trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and labour. Advocacy and support are also provided to implement regional and bilateral coordination programmes against the trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children. In addition, training is provided to improve prevention and response services for children victims of trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, street children and child labourers.

Increased family support and alternative care for children without parental care. The Programme is behind the reform of legal and regulatory frameworks on alternative care for children without - or at risk of losing parental care, strengthening the capacity of Government and other service providers to develop and manage shelters and family-based alternative care solutions such as foster care as an alternative to institution-based care for orphans and abandoned children, children with disabilities, children affected by HIV and AIDS and other groups of vulnerable children. The Programme advocates and provides technical expertise to improve the design and implementation of specific social protection policies intended to target vulnerable children and their families and strengthen monitoring and delivery mechanisms of social assistance/cash transfer programmes. The Programme also supports full compliance with the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption through improving the legal and regulatory framework, strengthening capacities of key stakeholders on child adoption (both domestic and inter-country) and establishing an effective national monitoring system.

Protection and Care for Children with Disabilities and Children affected by HIV andAIDS. The Programme backs the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, strengthening national legislation, policies and improves the capacity of the Government and other stakeholders to increase access to basic services and promote the rights and social inclusion for children with disabilities. The Programme also provides advocacy and technical assistance to strengthen the national framework, increase the capacity of local welfare officers, civil and non-government organisations to respond to the special needs and reduce stigma and discrimination against children affected by HIV and AIDS.

Improved child protection in emergencies. The Programme supports the child protection responses in natural disasters and climate change, including increased understanding of the impact of disasters and climate change on children, advocacy and technical assistance to government agencies for the development of policies, capacity and measures to improve child protection in emergencies.

3. Child-friendly Justice System

The Programme is behind the generation of evidence and advocates as well as provides technical assistance to support the national legal reform pertaining to children to bring it in line with CRC and other international standards on justice for children. Advocacy and technical support are provided to reform structures and strengthen capacities of law enforcement, legal, judicial and social welfare institutions for improved justice for children, including improving access to justice for children in conflict with the law, child victims, witnesses of crimes and children who come into contact with the justice system for other reasons such as care, protection or custody. The Programmes supports the implementation of child-friendly investigations, prosecution and adjudication procedures, establishment of child-friendly police investigation rooms and specialised child protection police units, as well as specialised juvenile courts. The Programme also supports the development and implementation of pilot diversion, restorative justice and reintegration schemes for juvenile offenders and juvenile crimes activities.


By the end of 2016, UNICEF and the Government of Viet Nam expect to have together developed comprehensive child protection systems to better respond to children’s increased vulnerability to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. Key national legal documents such as the Child Law, Penal Code, Penal Procedure Code, Law on Court Organisation and sub-law documents as well as the government decrees and circulars to guide the implementation of the newly-passed laws such as the Law on Handling of Administrative Violations, Law on Adoption, Law on People with Disabilities and Law on Human Trafficking will have been developed or revised to specifically address the needs of child victims of, or those at risk of, neglect, abuse and exploitation and children in conflict with the law to be in line with international standards. National strategies, policies and programmes of action will have been developed in line with a comprehensive framework for prevention and response to all types of neglect, abuse, exploitation and violence against children.

Working with the Government to improve child protection legislation and policies will ensure comprehensive and evidenced-based legal and regulatory frameworks to effectively prevent and protect children from abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence. At the same time, the programme contributes to increasing public knowledge and understanding to create a conductive environment for child protection.

Lawyers, prosecutors and judges will have improved knowledge and skills on child-friendly investigation techniques, reporting and prosecution. Child-friendly justice services will be increased, such as victim-friendly investigation rooms, special sexual offence units within police stations, child victim support services, child-friendly adjudication and diversion programmes for children in conflict with the law.

Social work education will be improved and social workers professionalised, ensuring their ability to work with vulnerable families and children. This, along with upgrading the professional capacity of teachers, health workers, police, justice workers and others who are at the forefront of activities targeting vulnerable children will help provide increasingly effective responses to child abuse, exploitation and violence.

The child protection service systems will be strengthened in eight focus provinces and fed into national programmes and policies for application across the country. Support, rehabilitative services and family- and community-based alternative care will be increasingly provided to child victims, children in conflict with the law, children with disabilities and those at risk, ensuring there is a continuum of care from prevention, early detection, identification and referral to specialised services.


[1] MOLISA (2010) Children Indicators in Viet Nam

[2] Ministry of Public Security, Criminal Investigation Police Department (2012), Report on the situation of juveniles in conflict with the law and crimes against children in 2011 (Report No. 310/BC-C45-P6 dated 12 Mar 2012).

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