The workshop was held by Kenan Institute Asia, as part of the US State Department-funded Vietnam Women Improving Lives and Leadership (Vietnam WILL) Project, which works to build the capacity of Vietnamese civil society organisations and public agencies serving the needs of women.
Nguyen Duc Manh, Head of the Institute for Population, Family and Children Studies, cited the latest statistics, according to which, each year, on average, there are some 1,000 child sexual abuse cases in Vietnam, adding that this figure was unacceptable in a civilised society.
“The development of means of communication is one of the leading causes of increasing child sexual abuse,” he said.
He said up to 45 million people in Vietnam use the Internet. Among those, 33 per cent are students. Vietnam is also one of the countries with the highest number of mobile phone users in Asia. A survey in HCM City shows that 95 per cent of students in high school use mobile phones. Up to 73 per cent have two or more than two mobile phones.
“Students use mobile phones and the Internet for networking. ’Bad’ guys use this habit to lure and cheat students,” he said.
Nguyen Luong Thien, a teacher at Dinh Tien Hoang High School in Hanoi, pointed out other reasons for sexual harassment cases at school.
“Students’ access to sexual abuse knowledge is limited. They are not even aware about their right to be protected when they raise their voice in case of sexual abuse,” she said.
“In addition, families and schools are not equipping students with self-protection skills.”
Doctor Nguyen Tung Lam, Chairman of the Hanoi Education Psychology Association, said sexual abuse leaves an extremely harmful effect on students. In other countries, child sexual abuse offences are subject to heavy penalties and punishment.
“Teachers and families must have psychological knowledge to help sexually abused children overcome the trauma,” he said.
At the workshop, psychological experts, parents, teachers and students of Dinh Tien Hoang High School also participated in a round table discussion on measures to prevent school sexual abuse.
Measures rolled out by students include being proactive in searching for information about self-defence skills to protect themselves from sexual abuse, In addition, schools should organise sex education lessons, not only for students but also for teachers and parents.
Other suggestions included introducing hotlines to report sexual abuse or to consult and answer students’ queries. Each school was advised to have a psychological consultant room.