As many as 1.75 million of Vietnam’s 18.3 million children aged between 5 and 17 have been forced into child labour, with 55 percent of them also denied access to schooling.

The shocking figures were revealed by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, which focused on seeking ways to protect children and adolescents from being physically, mentally and sexually abused.

The ministry reported that one-third of the working children have to toil for more than 42 hours per week, mostly in farming, garment making, trading and restaurant services.

Meanwhile, the number of child abuse cases remains high. Every year, about 1,000 cases are reported, 66 of which are of sexual abuse, according to the ministry.

Participants at the event, organised by the Tuong Lai Centre for Health Education and Community Development, held that the root of the problem is a lack of awareness of children protection among families and society. Many families fail to dedicate enough time to their children, while agencies designed to protect them are falling short of expectations, they said.

They also proposed the setting up of a network of community organisations to help agencies protect children nationwide.

More readily-available psychological and legal consultation services are also necessary to help abused children recover, they said.

Attendees also underscored the need to develop vocational training models, thus creating suitable jobs for adolescents, as well as the importance of the increased engagement of local government in preventing child abuse and helping victims to re-integrate into the community.-VNA