Disadvantaged children play at a festival in HCM City. (Photo: chuthapdo.org.vn)

HCM City (VNA) - A children’s protection programme will try to lower the proportion of disadvantaged children and those who are identified as vulnerable under the current rate of 4.3 percent from now to 2020, according to goals set by the HCM City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. 

Nguyen Thanh Phung, head of the department’s division in charge of the programme, said the municipal People’s Committee had approved the programme two months ago. 

Phung spoke at a workshop on the programme held on October 11 in the city. 

Disadvantaged children include those from families who are poor, near poor or from migrant families. They also include children with physical disabilities and HIV. 

Vulnerable children are those who have a high risk of falling into poverty, which could lead to an increased risk of abuse or exposure to crime. 

The children’s programme is also trying to lower the proportion of abused (defined as physical or sexual abuse) children in the city. Last year, the rate was 0.04 percent of all children. 

Although the rate had fallen by 40 percent compared to 2011, the proportion was still too high, Phung said. 

As of the first quarter, the city had more than 1.4 million children, including 18,000 considered disadvantaged and more than 57,000 identified as vulnerable. 

From now to 2020, the programme will continue focusing on juveniles who have violated or are at a high risk of violating laws. 

Speaking at the seminar, Ngo Thi Thuy, head of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation in Vietnam, said she was impressed by the city’s vocational training and education centre for adolescents, which has provided jobs to homeless children in not only the city but also neighbouring provinces. 

She said the foundation would work with the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to carry out the 2020 children’s protection programme. 

To Thi Kim Hoa, deputy chairwoman of the city’s Children’s Rights Protection Association, said that it was urgent to set up fast-response teams at communes or wards to provide timely assistance to children when they are abused or subjected to violence. 

“One time, the association’s hotline received calls from a mother of Binh Chanh District to ask for help when her child was hit at school and treated at hospital. At that time, we could not provide timely assistance. We only sent the information about the case to the department’s Children Protection Division and suggested that the legal association help,” Hoa said.-VNA