Three ways young girls are being empowered this International Day of the Girl Child
This International Day of the Girl Child, ChildFund Vietnam is expanding child protection online and offline to empower young girls to be safe in rural and remote areas. We live in a digital age and to celebrate this years’ theme ‘Digital Generation. Our Generation’, here are three ways we’re working with local partners to keep young girls safe online and in person.
1. Young girls are learning how to stay safe online
With children are spending more and more time on the internet, ChildFund launched the Swipe Safe program in 2017. The program is designed to help young people learn how to be safe online and to learn where they can get help if they are in trouble online – particularly on social media sites.
Fifteen-year-old Ngoc created her Facebook account when she was in Grade 6. She found that on Facebook she was able to make many new “friends” from around the world, and the number of people she connected with reached the thousands.
“I did not know most of the people on my friend list in real life,” Ngoc said. She shared a lot of information on her Facebook page, and the time spent on social media began affecting her schoolwork. Sometimes she and some of her classmates felt unsafe interacting online. “If we did not accept an invitation to go out from friends on Facebook, we received threats and other bad words,” Ngoc says. “We felt frightened.”
The Swipe Safe program gives young girls the knowledge and confidence to know how to keep themselves safe online – something that has become more important as schools took learning online and children spent more time online during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, the program has reached 12,000 young people just like Ngoc.
2. We’re expanding child protection programs on the ground in the Bac Kan Province
In December 2020 a young girl and her family from the Ba Be district came forward to report a case of sexual abuse to local child protection officers. Instead of calling the National Child Protection Call Center 111, they called on the specialists from the provincial department of social affairs.
Lien, a child protection officer at DOLISA, was the one who picked up the phone call reporting the abuse. She said: “We received the phone call asking for support, we were also very confused about where to start because we did not have practical experience. If support is not done properly, it may not be effective and may adversely affect the child and family. At that time, I remembered some reports of child abuse management in ChildFund’s project area.”
That’s when she contacted Thoi, a ChildFund Child Protection Officer in the Bac Kan province who had recently organised a series of training sessions for local child protection officers, like Lien, in the Na Ri district.
Here Lien and her peers learned about child protection and how to manage cases of child abuse and violence. After the training Lien had developed her skills as a child protection officer and was able to process the cases of two local children on her own.
Lien found out more about what happened, liaised with the relevant authorities and put in place long-term support plans to support the child and family. With a long-term plan in place, the young girl was able to access psychosocial support she needed to overcome the assault in a safe, healthy environment.
ChildFund is supporting the local department to run more training sessions to upskill their staff in responding to child protection reports to keep more young girls safe.
3. Taking child protection resources and systems online
App 111 was launched in December 2019 to make sure that young people can access the resources and information they need to report child protection issues and to be able to find help when they need it.
ChildFund worked with Microsoft Vietnam and the Department of Child Affairs to develop App 111 or ‘Tong dai 111’. This included building a mobile reporting app that people can access at any time to report child protection concerns, helping to relieve pressure on the helpline.
The app raises awareness of the importance of child protection and provides a better system for responding to reports. The app also hosts an online digital library of resources so people can learn more about child protection and safeguarding in their community.
“We believe, with the success of our latest project and our continued efforts, we can continue to improve Vietnam’s child protection reporting and case management systems as well as increase the public take-up of App 111 to access information about child protection information and connect with the right services,” Lien said.
ChildFund is committed to supporting young girls to be able to access the services and resources they need to keep themselves safe online and offline, and to find the support they need. Young girls deserve to feel safe in all spaces, every day of the year.