Stopping violence starts at school

Gender experts believe that education on violence prevention in Viet Nam should begin in schools but the subject was not in the curriculum and the topic was unfamiliar to most teachers. "School-based violence prevention is very important, to teach young people before they get in a relationship or start to learn to use violence against each other," said Partners for Prevention Programme co-ordinator James Lang. Speaking on the sideline of a workshop reviewing strategies and tools for school-based prevention in Ha Noi yesterday, Lang said nations should focus on helping young people understand their options in relationships and within families. This would promote a more harmonious and violence-free society, he said. He cited the results of last year's study on domestic violence against women in Viet Nam as a sorry fact. The survey found that one in three or 34 per cent of married women had suffered physical or sexual violence from their husbands at some time in their lives. About 58 per cent of Vietnamese women reported experiencing at least one type of domestic violence in their lifetime – physical, sexual or emotional. The study findings also found that women were three times more likely to be abused by a husband than by any other person. "It is important that the Ministry of Education and Training and local authorities are involved and understand the importance of school-based violence prevention," Lang said. Anti-violence has become a common concern among practitioners and organisations involved in gender and gender equality. Viet Nam National Institute for Educational Science official Nguyen Thi Mai Ha said violence prevention had not been integrated into the curriculum or subjects at schools and the topic remained unfamiliar to most teachers. Vu Ngoc Thuy, deputy director of Gender Equality Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs said she hoped the Labour Ministry and the Ministry of Education and Training would collaborate to introduce school-based violence prevention. Nora Pistor, Gender, Women and Development Advisor of GIZ, said it was important to raise awareness and build up activities and knowledge about violence and gender issues with people who were still young so when they grew up they would have to learn how to communicate with their families and live a happy life with their spouses and other people surrounding. It was difficult to change the behaviour and attitude of people when they were adults, she said. Ravi Verma, regional director of International Centre for Research on Women, also believed schools were the most appropriate setting for violence prevention programmes because they could address gender norms before stereotypes became deeply ingrained. Schools were stable institutions to create lasting impacts, he said. The two-day workshop, run by the Paz y Dersarrollo, a Spanish NGO, attracted practitioners, experts and representatives of Government bodies. Tools and strategies of school-based prevention were also shared. In Viet Nam there were nearly 1,600 cases of violence in and outside schools in the 2009-2010 academic year, according to Ministry of Education and Training figures cited by Lao Dong newspaper. More than 2,400 students were reprimanded for their acts while hundreds were temporarily suspended from school, it said. The violence stemmed from the students' lack of "life skills, self-restraint and appropriate behaviour to solve minor and simple quarrels", the report said, citing the ministry. — VNS Source:

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