Almost 100 children delivered an emphatic plea for inclusion in society's decision making in Ha Noi during the weekend.
And they argued that they needed to know; participate and express their opinions if they were to understand their rights and honour their obligations.
The children, from ten cities and provinces, were attending a forum where they discussed children's rights - especially their right to participation - and shared their experiences about disseminating their views and raising public awareness.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh, 15, of Huong Thuy, central Thua Thien Hue Province, said that the young journalist's club was an effective place for children to learn about child protection, child abuse and violence.
"I have had the chance to learn, write articles and make TV programmes that timely report children's activities during my three years at the club," she said.
"My friends and I also visit remote children and support them with clothes, school materials and especially knowledge about their rights," she said.
But she faced difficulties with her reporting because many adults refused to co-operate.
HCM City-based Children Link Club member Thuy An told the forum that too much study at school, in extra classes and at home meant many children had no time for social activities.
"Adults should encourage children to express their opinion at an early ages, so that youngsters became more confident about expressing their thinking," she advised.
"Poor awareness of their own rights made children shy and afraid to speak out their opinions," she warned.
The Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Ministry's Child Care and Protection Department deputy director, Dang Nam, said right of children to participate in decisions helped them express themselves and show their abilities.
It also improved their understanding with adults and made children more confident and able to work more effectively in groups.
Although the right to participation was recognised as a right of the child, it had yet to be properly implemented in society, community and family, he said.
Viet Nam Association for the Protection of Child Rights President, Do Duc Ngo, said the generation gap and conservative ideology caused many parents to not trust their children; impose what they could do on them and ignore their opinions.
Parents also lacked knowledge about the rights of their children and many hit them without knowing this was a violation.
National Assembly Culture, Education, Youth and Children deputy chairwoman Ngo Thi Minh said that it was necessary to equip both children and their parents with knowledge about children's rights as well as skills.
She also asked that the Ho Chi Minh Young Pioneer and Communist Youth Union extended its effort to engage students in community activities.
The children provided their recommendations and suggestions for the National Action Plan for Children 2011-2020 that the Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Ministry is drafting at the forum.
Their contributions proved their right to participate in policy making, said Child Care and Protection Department deputy director Nam.
The Viet Nam Association for Protection of Child Rights and Save the Children Viet Nam co-organised the gathering. — VNS