Between 2014 and 2016, more than 4,100 cases of sexual violence against children were reported, with girls accounting for more than 80 percent of 4,140 child victims, according to a report from the Police Department of Criminal Investigation of Social Order under the Ministry of Public Security.
In the first six months of the year, a total of 696 cases of sexual violence against children were reported, with 710 victims.
Most of the cases were reported by relatives of victims or local residents, said Nhu Thi Minh Nguyet, Director of the Ministry of Public Security’s Police Political Bureau Department.
Only six percent of the cases were discovered by public security officials, Nguyet said at a workshop held on Friday in HCM City.
Most of the alleged sexual abusers were relatives or acquaintances of victims, she said, adding that they took advantage of close relationships with naive children whose victims’ parents were at work.
Many recently reported cases involved sexual violence against children, of which the majority of alleged abusers were foreigners.
Nguyet attributed the number of rising child abuse cases to lack of parental care, lack of gender education and life skills at schools, and the explosion of the internet and social networks, as well as tourism development.
“Many incidents remain unreported as families of victims fear their children’s dignity and privacy will be affected for their entire lives if the incidents are made public,” she said.
"Children who experience sexual abuse are more likely to be depressed and experience other types of mental health problems and to engage in high-risk behaviours such as violence and social evils such as drug abuse," she added.
More than 1,000 cases of sexual violence against children are reported every year and the reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg, said a representative of Binh Tan district’s Women’s Union.
Last year, a total of 13 cases of sexual violence against children were reported in the district.
A majority of victims were children of migrant workers who lived in boarding houses and left their children at home alone when they went to work, she said.
In some cases, child victims had sex with lovers who are also young.
Most families remained silent and failed to report the cases to authorities in a timely manner, she said.
Local public security and women’s unions planned to strengthen public awareness and public dissemination of materials about prevention of sexual violence against children, which can play a vital role, said Lieutenant General Do Kim Tuyen, deputy director of the General Police Department.
Local public security and women’s unions should work with schools to offer life skills education for children, especially in disadvantaged localities with poor academic standards.