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Friday,  Dec 15,2017,22:48 (GMT+7)

Child-haters

Son Nguyen
Saturday,  Dec 2,2017,01:33 (GMT+7)
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Child-haters

Son Nguyen

The news has spread fast, leaving the society in all-out shock when it becomes known that three babysitters at a preschool facility named Mam Xanh in HCMC’s District 12 have cruelly abused little kids aged from two to six. Images shown in a video posted on Tuoi Tre Online early this week fuel widespread indignation when the three babysitters are seen beating the children, using available tools at hand such as towels, plastic cans, slippers and large spoons. Some kids are tossed, kicked in the body or the head, slapped in the face, or even threatened with a knife.

As the public is venting anger over the boiling hot scandal, authorities and law enforcement agencies have swiftly reacted, detaining the babysitters, filing charges against them, and launching an inspection of all private day care facilities citywide. However, according to local media, violence against children is not rare, as recent weeks or months have seen numerous cases involving child-haters whose crimes of physically abusing children are beyond imagination. Oft-seen punitive sanctions, therefore, might not pay off as well.

Back to the scandal, as shown in the video that went viral on Sunday, when children are taken to the day care facility by their parents, the babysitters will smilingly welcome them. But right behind the gate, the hell opens for all the pitiful kids. They are all beaten by the babysitters, seemingly for no reason at all. As the children cry, they are beaten further, mercilessly.

Mam Xanh was established in 2014 by a woman named Pham Thi My Linh, who is also one of the three babysitters. Khuu Manh Hung, head of District 12’s Division of Education, says in Tuoi Tre that the facility had been inspected twice since the beginning of the school-year, the latest inspection last Thursday, after rumors that children were abused there. However, no violations were found in the two inspections.

District 12 authorities right after the video have forced the closure of the facility, and police there have also taken the owner into custody. Pham Thi My Linh, says the media, has admitted to all the beatings, explaining that the measures were aimed to keep the kids in good order.

On Monday, HCMC leaders took urgent measures to deal with violence against children.

Tat Thanh Cang, vice secretary of the city’s Party Committee, issued a dispatch asking relevant agencies to launch inspections into all private child care facilities in the city, says Tuoi Tre.

HCMC vice chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thu on the day demanded that cameras be installed at all child care facilities so that authorities and parents can monitor activities at such venues, says Thanh Nien. Head of the HCMC People’s Procuracy Duong Ngoc Hai says in the paper that violence against children as seen at Mam Xanh is intolerable, and his agency has instantly approved the detention and prosecution of the facility owner. Secretary of the city’s Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan, meanwhile, says city authorities will have radical measures to prevent the repetition of such violence.

However, the violence at Mam Xanh is not a rare phenomenon. It has become more widespread lately, that needs more far-reaching measures other than punitive sanctions.

In a commentary, Lao Dong newspaper ponders how long we will continue to be shocked at violence against children. The paper gives a long list of such crimes against children, from a babysitter in Binh Duong Province using her feet to bathe a little child forced to lie down on the floor, to two babysitters wrangling a child and threatening to immerse the kid into a water tank.

Days ago, police in Kien Giang Province launched a criminal investigation into the case of a seven-year-old girl alleged to be severely beaten by his father and stepmother. The case was unveiled when a teacher found her with numerous bruises on the body, including a deep wound on her cheek said to be caused by her father pressing a red-hot metal rod onto her face, according to Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper.

Last week, police detained a housemaid in Ha Nam Province for brutally beating a babe of more than one month old, says Thanh Nien, while in Thanh Hoa, a babe of 23 days old was killed, and in HCMC, a six-year-old had his throat slit by a man, all happening within a matter of days.

If statistics are of any significance, Tuoi Tre says some 3,000 to 4,000 cases of violence against children are reported each year, including some 1,000 being raped and 100 or so murdered. Also according to the paper, findings from a survey show that three out of four children used to be physically abused either by parents or guardians, while the Hotline 111 says it receives some 200 phone calls related to violence against children a month.

In Vietnam, there are as many as 17 agencies and organizations with the mandate to protect children, and this month, an additional organization named National Committee on Children will start operation, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam. However, most of the cases of violence against children are uncovered by the media or the public, says Tuoi Tre.

Whenever a case of grave violence is reported, the common response from those directly affected like parents and competent agencies is that they are “highly indignant,” and after punitive sanctions including prison terms, the status quo continues.

In the wake of violence at Mam Xanh, installation of cameras is necessary, prosecution is necessary, heavy-handed penalty is necessary, but more necessary is probably a change of awareness and mindset in the entire society toward the effective protection of children. Changes to the law to fight the crime, accountability of agencies responsible for child protection, and closer oversight in the licensure for those working with children like housemaids and babysitters are just a few among tougher measures to protect the future generation. Otherwise, victims of baby-hitters or child-haters today will bring such scars into life, and sow the seeds of cruelty in the future.

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