Vietnam initiates first national program on child protection

The United Nations Children’s Fund and the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs have set up the first National Program on Child Protection for the period 2011-2015 in Vietnam.

Chidren must be protected from human trafficking, kidnapping, abuse, violence and injury. Vietnam first has National Program on Child Protection

This decision has just received the Prime Minister’s approval and marks an important milestone in the development and growth of children in Vietnam. The National Program targets all children, particularly those with special needs and those that are abused, exploited or are juvenile delinquents.

The program aims to reduce the percentage of children with special needs to less than 5.5 percent,  provide care, recuperation and rehabilitation to 80 percent of such children,  identify and provide early intervention to 70 percent  of highly vulnerable children and  establish a child protection service system in 50 percent of all provinces and cities across the country by 2015.

While Vietnam has achieved impressive economic growth and social progress, the country is facing a growing need to protect its children. Over 1.6 million Vietnamese children are currently living in special circumstances as defined by the Law on Child Protection, Care and Education.

If other groups of vulnerable children are included in this definition, such as victims of human trafficking, kidnapping, abuse, violence and injury as well as children from impoverished families, the total number of children in special circumstances would rise to around 4.3 million or 18 percent of the total child population of Vietnam.

The total budget for the program is VND1, 756 billion (US$90 million). As planned, VND913.5 billion will be provided from the national budget, VND742 billion from local budgets, VND70 billion from international organizations and VND30 billion from communities and other sources. The Program will be implemented across the country, focusing on areas with a high number of children in need and at risk which includes all children from ethnic minorities as well as disadvantaged areas.

The Program has developed over the years and proved beneficial from consistent efforts made by concerned Government agencies at national and sub-national levels, as well as from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other international organizations.

The Prime Minister’s approval of the National Program on Child Protection shows the Government’s strong commitment for child protection and care. The Program will give direction to activities in the next five years which will contribute to the creation of a safe and friendly environment for children and the prevention and elimination of risk factors that cause harm to children. The Program will provide timely support, recuperation and rehabilitation services for children in special circumstances as well as abused and exploited children.

“We applaud the Government for this great decision and its strong budget commitments. We strongly believe that the National Program on Child Protection will substantially improve care and protection for children in Vietnam, in particular vulnerable children.” said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF’s Representative in Vietnam.

The National Program on Child Protection has five sector of  focus, namely:  i) communication, education and social mobilization; ii) strengthening of volunteers and other staff working on child care and protection at all levels; iii) development of a child protection service system, including a child protection structure, social service centers, counseling centers and a community network of child protection; iv) development and scaling up of community-based models on care and support for children in special circumstances, especially orphans, abandoned children, children with disabilities, street children, sexually abused children and children and minors in conflict with the law; v) improving the effectiveness of state management on child care and protection.

The National Program on Children Protection will hopefully address the complexity of child protection issues and thus contribute to the long-term economic and social well-being of Vietnam.

By Uyen Phuong

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