Please do Listening to Children

The First Prize of the child-rights related writing contest went to a 17-year-old boy, Tran Vuong Cuong from Son Tay town, Hanoi. This was announced by the Ambassador of Sweden Mr Staffan Herrström at the award presentation ceremony held recently at the Embassy of Sweden.

Launched in about two months ago, the writing contest “If you have power to change the present situation for the children of Vietnam, What do you want to change to serve the best interests of the Vietnamese children?” had received 65 entries from children coming from different parts of Vietnam. The youngest contestant is 12 years old and the oldest one is 17 years old.

Looking at the current issues of children from different angles, entries to the contest covered various problems, mainly domestic violence, violence at school and in the community; lack of food to eat and books to study; and right to education for all, including the people living with HIV. They also addressed other problems such as labour abuse, parents’ abandoning their child. The participants to the contest emphasized that children have the right to be born and live in a family full of love and laugh. Many children called on the adult to listen to them.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Ambassador of Sweden Mr Staffan Herrström emphasized that the idea behind the contest held by the Embassy is to create  opportunities for children to express themselves or to write about their dreaming future. He said: “The contest was held in a small scale but it is of important significance. The contestants addressed different problems and many of them wrote it from the bottom of their hearts with a wish that their voices will be heard and listened by the adult, by their parents. We recognised the contributions of the Vietnamese children to the contest. The timing of the contest is perfect as the International Children’s Day was just celebrated. So was the National Day of Sweden. And particularly, the Month of Action for Children 2011 is under way with support from the Government of Vietnam. We do hope that the contest and the wishes of the children will trigger some concrete actions.”

Copies of the entries to the writing contest were handed over to Ms Tran Thi Thanh Thanh, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Association of Child Rights Protection with a hope that the Association will use the children’s wishes as supportive evidence for its policy advocacy as well as foundation for future actions.

UNICEF Country Representative Lotta Sylwander highlighted some major challenges that Vietnam is facing now in terms of child right protection and care. She also shared the same view of how to make the adult listen to the children. She took the ceremony to announce: “Later this year, UNICEF will select Child Rights Ambassador. We believe that it’s time for the children voices heard and for the children to talk about themselves.”

The participants at the ceremony focused their discussion on the wish raised by the First Prize Winner, that parents should attend training courses on how to listen to their children. All the participants believed that we can make changes and not just the adult but children can contribute to this changing process.

At the ceremony, Awards were presented to winners of the First Prize and one of the Second Prize. Awards for other winners as well as certificate for participants are sent to the contestants by post.

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