Some of the Asian countries regard bullying as a serious type of violence; luckily, Vietnam is one of them. In Vietnam, bullying is widespread in schools because that’s where a child starts his life, and it can go on to different phases and stages of a person’s lifetime. Although Vietnam exerted a lot of efforts to maintain safe education in the country, being the first country in Asia to confirm the UN convention on the Rights of the Child, there is still some kind of unfriendly atmosphere around the schools. Here is a short review on the status of bullying in Vietnam and the concerns it raises.
|SEE ALSO: Cyber Stalking Stories|
School Bullying in Vietnam
Bullying is defined as a repetitive act of aggression that is directed at a person or more with the intention of harming, intimidating, or humiliating them. It can cause physical and psychological harm to the victim, and can leave them with serious long-term effects.
With about 87 million inhabitants, as of 2010, Vietnam is famous for its high percentage of youth, with people under the age of 30 forming about 51.8% of its citizens. That is an enough push for the country to seek better education and the security of its children’s future, where violence and abuse are nonexistent. The problem in Vietnam is that no matter how hard the government and schools try to build better environments for the students, the number of cases reported regarding bullying at schools is increasing, and that is not exclusive to student-to-student encounters but includes bullying cases where the teachers are involved too..
According to a study that was conducted on the different forms of child abuse in Vietnam in 2003 which was performed on 2,800 adults and children chosen to reflect the social and cultural diversity of population, it was showed that childhood abuse and violence appeared more in reform schools (which are schools managed by National Security where students who commit acts of violent acts are sent) and other institutions than in any other locations.
Another survey was conducted in 2005 among 499 students from age 9 to age 14 and 306 adults; this survey showed that 93% of the students suffered from bullying and violence at schools either physically or verbally. Bullying performed by teachers on their students is believed to have different forms as the UNICEF mentioned; it might take the form of beating by hand, knocking on the child’s head, hitting the buttocks, hitting on the thighs, or depriving the child from his/her food. According to another survey done by the Institute of Development Studies in Ho Chi Minh City in 2008, under the Child Abuse in school and family, it was found that 26.3% of the students were subjected to bullying acts from their teachers and got punishments that ranged from frightening them, punching them on the heads to pinching their ears and making them stand in the sun, while 16.7% of the students faced bullying by their peers where they were forced to do class work for them.
One incident of teacher violence took place in 2011, where the students failed to line up correctly so the teach felt the need to punish them. The teacher asked them to lie on the classroom tables and she hit them on their bottoms, and after resuming to finish smacking 4 students, she complained that her hand hurt and ordered the class representative to continue with them. When the teacher was asked, she said that she did hit the students because they didn’t act properly and because in a previous meeting with their parents, she took permission to punish them if they didn’t behave in the desired manners.
Vietnam as mentioned before is one of the countries that care deeply for the improvement of their education. Vietnam works hard to provide its students with suitable environment and materials to bring them up successfully, but because they put too much academic learning into their curricula, some students end up being stressed, worried, tensioned, or even suffer insomnia from the pressure of studying.
Vietnam’s Legal Regulations to Prevent Bullying
One of the first significant laws issued in Vietnam as a legal document relevant to school violence is the law on child protection, care and education that was issued in 2004, which provides protection for the children who have previously suffered from abuse, and there is an article under this law which states that “the family, state, and society have the responsibility to protect a child’s life, body, dignity, and honor, and to take measures to prevent accidents for the children and that acts of violence infringing upon a child’s life, body, dignity and honor shall be handled in time and strictly according to legal provisions”.
School violence had been addressed more legally in 2011, which provides guidance under the law of child protection, care and education, which stipulates that “using punitive measures to educate, injure or hurt children, either physically or verbally are in violation of child’s rights.”
Preventing Bullying in Vietnam
Some initiatives were being taken in Vietnam apart from the legal laws and regulations to help build an environment for the children where they could grow and thrive. Among these initiatives were the measures taken by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) that focuses on building a friendly school environment, more collective activities, stronger ties between the school and the family, and a better school security system, such as the 2008 Directive No. 70/2008/CT-BGDDT that MOET issued to strengthen the cooperation between students, family, and society in the education of children, pupils and students. Another example is Directive No. 40/2008/CT-BGDDT which launched the campaign “Child friendly schools, active students” which was aiming at building a safe and effective schools environment and to encourage students to take a creative approach in learning.
Another initiative was Vietnam’s first National Programme on Child Protection that started in 2011, targeting all the children especially those who were being abused or exploited and at risk children. This program was aiming at establishing a child protection service, including a child protection network, social work service centers, counseling centers, and community networks of child protection collaborators. This program was planned to be around in 50% of the cities of Vietnam in 2015.
Bullying Cases of Vietnamese Children
Bullying is usually targeted at those who are considered different or outcasts. The bully usually chooses his/her prey according to a trait that they can clearly spot, like their accent and their looks, and that’s why the Asian immigrants are usually picked at and the disabled as well. One of the stories that included some of the Vietnamese immigrants is that of a 15-year-old Vietnamese girl who was studying with her sister and another group who also came from Vietnam in the United States. They were walking home from school one day and because they fear the intense bullying acts that are committed against the Asian students by other school students, they asked the principal of the school to walk with them. The problem started when suddenly they couldn’t find the principal around and decided that they will continue their way home; at this point a group of students appeared and Trang Dang was the first to be hit on her face hard that her glasses broke.
Rumors are a type of verbal bullying, where words can cause harm for the victim in a psychological way or it might lead to the eventual emergence of other kinds of violence, like what happened in one of Philadelphia schools when a rumor about an Asian student who beat another African American student at the school was spread. This incident led to a horrible violent day at the South Philly high school, because students started searching for every Asian student; it started when a group entered a classroom and beat an Asian student and threw a desk on his head, following that was a girl who was dragged along the stairs from her hair.
How Bullying Affects Students
Bullying is not the kind of thing that is done and forgotten once the bully and the victim go home, but it tends to leave its ugly scars, not only for the victim but it affects the bully and the witness as well. Some people believe that since a lot of bullying incidents are verbal like name calling, teasing, or making fun of a person, it might not affect the victim as much as the physical ones, but that is not true because words can cause damage on the inside and might result in many long-term psychological bruises:
- Being depressed all the time
- The victim will always want to separate himself from the social life and the activities that he/she used to enjoy.
- The victim will start hating school, and will always come out with excuses not to go, like headaches, stomach aches and flu; he/she might even lock themselves in their rooms. And that will lead to them not following up with their studies or even dropping out of school altogether.
- Loneliness and sadness might be the two main factors in the victim’s life.
Those kids who bully others usually follow this behavior because they might have gone through it at home or during earlier stages of their lives and want other people around them to know how they felt. They might also adopt this behavior to show their power over others, but it will affect them in other ways, like:
- Abusing alcohol and drugs in their future lives.
- Always getting engaged in physical activities like fights.
- Bullies might drop out of their schools due to their bad behaviors.
Schools are meant to be kept safe for the students to learn, because they usually imitate what they see their teachers and other students around them do; that’s why teachers should be very careful about their acts in classrooms and when they are around their students. And that’s how the witnesses of bullying acts end up being affected too; they might feel guilty for not intervening in the incident, or they might feel frightened for the possibility of being the next targets, they might go the other way around and try to imitate the power of the bully they witnessed and start being bullies themselves.
Cyber Bullying in Vietnam
With the emergence of the different technological devices and applications, and the huge number of teens who rely on their smart phones and laptops in their daily life, the usage of the Internet became the most frequent daily habit in the world. The Internet brought with it social media websites, and as much as it can be useful for some people, it does bring negative effects for others as well. Cyber bullying is an act of aggression through the usages of Internet and technology, whether by sharing private videos or photos with the intention of humiliating or exposing a person in front of the world, or sending text messages, messages via social websites, or emails that will threaten or offend and insult them.
The problem that arose with the cyber bullying phenomenon is that people usually choose to bully others through it because it might be done at any time during the day; they don’t have to be at schools like the ordinary kind of bullying, and it also offers the advantage of anonymity, where the bully’s identity is protected. Cyber bullying was a main reason behind the increased amount of suicide among teens recently.
Teens should be well aware of what cyber bullying is and should know how to respond to such acts. Some statistics regarding teens worldwide showed that half of the teens that are bullied online are girls, who are twice more likely to be bullied than the boys. And about 68% of the teens believe that cyber bullying is a serious problem, but only 1 in every 10 bullied teens tells their parents at home or their teachers at schools about what they have been subjected to.