Nguyen Thi Nga, deputy head of the Department of Child Affairs under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, talks about online child protection.
|Children are at a greater risk of being abused online during the time of isolation and social distancing. Photo nhandan.com.vn|
As children have to study and communicate more online because they can't go to school during the pandemic, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned millions in the world are at risk of being abused online. What actions have been proposed by the child affairs department to protect children in Vietnam?
According to the Department of Criminal Police, Ministry of Public Security, in the first quarter of 2021, as many as 497 cases of child abuse which harmed 512 children were detected in Vietnam. Among those cases, sexual abuse accounted for 80.88 per cent, increasing by 4.4 per cent over the same period last year.
During the pandemic, we need to ensure COVID-19 prevention and control measures and at the same time, strengthen child protection.
The Department of Child Affairs has requested localities to strictly implement Resolution No 121/2020/QH14 dated June 19, 2020 of the National Assembly on continuing to strengthen implementation of the child abuse prevention policy.
The department has stepped up dissemination of knowledge on child protection and care during the pandemic, as well as provided guidance on skills to detect and report child abuse quickly. Particular attention will be paid to centralised quarantine sites which have a large number of children and at educational institutions and localities where children have to be isolated at home.
At the same time, the department has directed provinces and cities across the country to offer support for children at risk of abuse, children being abused, and promptly and strictly handle cases of child abuse.
How can parents supervise and protect their children against the risk of abuse if they must be away to work?
If parents are away from home, parents or caregivers need to equip children with some skills to protect themselves against bad people and even in cases of abuse.
Parents need to attach importance to abuse prevention work, especially denouncing acts of abuse and suspected child abuse behaviours so that authorities can promptly handle them.
During the pandemic, children cannot go to school and have to study and interact more on the internet. How has the Department of Child Affairs co-ordinated with relevant departments and agencies to ensure children are safe online?
The protection of children in the living environment or on the internet needs to be done all the time, every minute, every hour.
The Department of Child Affairs has asked for inspecting and imposing punishments on toxic content on social media which negatively affects the healthy development of children.
At the same time, the department has removed content that is not suitable for children on the internet platforms. Recently, Youtube channels with content that adversely affects children such as channels of Tho Nguyen, Timmy TV have been fined.
What should family members and caregivers do to protect children from online risks?
In order to help children avoid problems while online, parents and caregivers need to create rules and discuss them with children to come up with regulations on using the internet and mobile phones.
In addition, it is necessary to apply technology, for example, installing software filtering or blocking inappropriate content for children.
However, the most effective method is to have an open conversation with children to know what content they often access and why in order to guide them on how to search and use information and photos in a proper way.
Popular Vietnamese TikTok user Tho Nguyen recently caused outrage online by posting videos about Kuman Thong dolls online, asking the dolls to bless her studies after "receiving many requests from children".
Vietnam's strong political commitments as well as strong leadership in the realization of children's rights have helped improve the lives of millions of children.