Vietnam has made major strides in caring for, educating and protecting children over the past 27 years since the country became the first in Asia and second in the world to ratify the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1990.
The education and protection of children is considered a key political mission of Party Committees from central to local levels and a top priority in the country’s socio-economic development strategies.
Article 37 of the 2013 Constitution stipulates that “Children shall be protected, cared for and educated by the State, family and society; and participated in child-related issues. Harassing, persecuting, maltreating, abandoning or abusing children, exploiting child labour or other acts that violate children’s rights are prohibited.”
Additionally, the 13th National Assembly adopted the Child Law in April 2016, which will come into force in June 2017, with the revision and supplementation of some articles to concretise the Constitution and the convention.
The National Action Programme for Children also emphasised that children need to be treated as special citizens and cared for by the State and people and should enjoy a healthy environment for physical, intellectual and moral development.
The mortality rate of children under five has been halved (39 per thousand to 20 per thousand live births) since 2000, while the number of stunted children has been reduced by nearly one third (from 36 percent to 25 percent).
Vietnam has implemented extensive vaccination programmes, improved healthcare services at schools and eliminated maternal and neonatal paralysis and tetanus.
The country has also carried out programmes to protect children as well as policies to take care of those from disadvantaged families, leading to the rate of needy children falling to 5.6 percent from 6 percent between 2011 and 2015.
Last year, the nation spent over 100 billion VND (4.3 million USD) to support underprivileged children.
Despites these accomplishments, there are still many challenges in protecting child rights in Vietnam, including development gaps between urban and rural and ethnic minority areas.
A worrying fact is that sexual abuse of children and violence against children are increasing. According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the country detected more than 5,300 child sexual abuse cases from 2012 to 2016.
To ensure child rights, Party committees at all levels and the Vietnam Fatherland Front will step up communication campaigns to raise public awareness of the importance of caring for, educating and protecting children.
The country will refine the legal system and expand social welfare policies for children from remote and ethnic minority regions.
Localities are requested to prioritise land for the construction of schools and parks for children.
Regional and international cooperation and mobilising foreign financial resources will be promoted to take better care of children as well as enhancing coordination between schools, families and society.
The Ministry of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs has asked centrally-run cities and provinces to implement measures to prevent child abuse and violence.