In Vietnam, the Law on Children came into effect in June 2017 to reinforce the commitment that the Government of Vietnam has for the UNCRC since ratifying the convention in 1990. Recognizing the benefits as well as the threats that have come with these digital technology developments, the Law on Children has a specific article (Article 54) on child protection on the internet.
The "netsmart" booklet
As noted by the Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan last week, internet usage in Vietnam has reached 50 million people or 54% of the population, which is higher than the global average of 46.46% and Vietnam is among the Asian countries with the largest number of internet users. Comparing with the 205,000 users in the early days of the internet to 31 million users in 2012, the figure of 50 million users in 2017 is truly impressive. Unfortunately, this advancement has also created additional risks for children, as there are increasing cases of abuse and violence against children, as reported by both mainstream media and social media. A UNICEF survey conducted in 2016 indicates that 74% of children and adolescents in Vietnam believe that they are in danger of being sexually abused or taken advantage of online, and 75% of them would go to their parents or caregivers if they were threatened. Parents themselves, however, continue to face a lot of difficulties to talk with their children on these issues, both the advantages and risks that children may experience when they are using the internet.
“The Internet is a wonderful resource. Young children today use the Internet for a variety of purposes such as communication, education and entertainment. The online as well as the offline world can pose serious risks for children and make them more accessible for abuse. In order to help parents and other adults to keep children safe on the internet, we have translated the handbook NetSmart into Vietnamese. This will be a available as a print and online and we would encourage everyone to spread the words and share the link.” Victoria Rhodin Sandstrom, First Secretary, Head of Political Affairs.
“We can not and we should not stop children from accessing and using internet but we could support and protect children from cyber risk. Parents and other adults in children’s close surrounding need to create environment where they will be able to talk to children about what they do or who they meet on the internet..” said Dragana Strinic, Country Director, Save the Children in Vietnam.
In order to support parents and other adults to help keep children safe on the internet, the Embassy of Sweden and Save the Children, cooperating with the Department of Children, Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs are taking advantage of the Internet Forum 2017 to launch the book “Netsmart”. This easy to read reference document in Vietnamese will provide parents, teachers, educators, policy-makers, NGOs and adults an effective solution to protect children on the internet.
Much as the booklet “Respect! My body!” introduced to the public in Vietnamese last May has been helping adults understand child protection overall, the handbook “Netsmart!” will help equip them with knowledge, ideas and ways to communicate with children on all the potential risks that they may encounter on the internet. With an easy-to-understand approach, the booklet also offers creative ideas on how to openly discuss with children on the risk of sexual abuse on the internet, and most of all, how to use the internet safely and smart.