Tackling bullying, harassment and violence in Hanoi’s schools

December 1, 2016

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Submitted by Plan International.  This blog is a part of the Global Working Group to End SRGBV 16 Days of Activism campaign.
 
 

Hundreds of youth leaders from across Hanoi, Vietnam have joined forces to raise awareness about the bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence taking place in their schools. These young leaders are part of a pilot project led by Plan International Vietnam and the UN Trust Fund, which works to keep schools safe, inclusive and free from discrimination.

When Plan International surveyed 3,000 students in Hanoi in 2014, 80 per cent of respondents said they had experienced school-related gender-based violence (psychological, physical, and sexual violence) at least once in their life. In order to tackle this issue, Plan International Vietnam and the UN Trust Fund developed a Gender-Responsive School pilot programme, which works to address the root causes of gender inequality and violence.

It is believed that gender-based violence in Vietnam results from gender norms that support the dominance of men and the subordination of women. In schools, cases of gender-based violence often go unreported in Vietnam. The result is a culture of impunity. The project challenges students and teachers to recognize and challenge gender norms and violence taking place in their everyday life. Through school-based Youth Clubs, young leaders in Hanoi are holding debates and theatre performances, organising school-wide awareness events, educating teachers and parents and reporting cases of violence taking place in their school.

Determined for change, these young leaders are raising their voices and breaking the silence on gender-based violence. In the same survey, 31 per cent of students reported having experienced physical violence in the last six months, while 11 per cent of students surveyed experienced sexual abuse. “People need more information about gender-based violence, especially for girls and boys. They only think violence is something physical,” said a student from Hanoi.

In order to tackle this issue, Plan International Vietnam and the UN Trust Fund developed a Gender-Responsive School pilot programme, which works to address the root causes of gender inequality and violence.

It is believed that gender-based violence in Vietnam results from gender norms that support the dominance of men and the subordination of women. In schools, cases of gender-based violence often go unreported in Vietnam. The result is a culture of impunity.

The project challenges students and teachers to recognize and challenge gender norms and violence taking place in their everyday life. Through school-based Youth Clubs, young leaders in Hanoi are holding debates and theatre performances, organising school-wide awareness events, educating teachers and parents and reporting cases of violence taking place in their school.

Determined for change, these young leaders are raising their voices and breaking the silence on gender-based violence.

Shown below, youth leaders from Hanoi offer their messages of support to their classmates and peers.

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“I did not know anything gender-based violence and sexual orientation. I realized by being in this group that this topic is very important and a ‘hot issue’. If more people know about gender-based violence, then they can change their habits. It’s about breaking the silence,” said a female team leader in Hanoi.

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“I was often teased. It was hell in school. During grade 11, I joined this group and started to understand that I should be respected for being myself. My differences can be respected. After graduation, I will remember this group. No matter who I am, I can be okay with myself,”  said one student.

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Through the project, 20 schools have been equipped with a counselling office, giving students the opportunity to speak to trained professionals while seeking emotional care and support.  More than 1,460 students have sought counselling in these centres.

Outside of the classroom, more than 25,000 mothers and fathers have learned about gender equality and have supported their children to avoid violent behaviors.

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Gender-based violence against children and young people can have lasting consequences on their social and psychological health and well-being.  Violence has been linked to aggression, intimate partner violence, depression, anxiety and other health problems in adulthood.

In the long-term, the Gender-Responsive School pilot programme aims to provide better protection for students and to help them feel respected and safe in school.

Over the last two years, the programme has reached nearly 31,000 students.  If successful, there are hopes that the Government of Vietnam will replicate the project across Hanoi, reaching more than 529,000 students.

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Plan International is a proud member of the Global Working Group to End School-Related Gender-Based Violence.

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