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Child maltreatment common in Vietnam

Child maltreatment is a common problem in Vietnam. All forms of child maltreatment – emotional and physical – have a negative emotional effect on the child. In some cases, the child’s physical health and memory are also affected. These are the conclusions of PhD candidate Nhu Kieu Tran. Her PhD ceremony is on 12 December.

Little research has been conducted into child maltreatment in Vietnam. Tran, herself from Vietnam, got almost 1900 Vietnamese school children aged between 12 and 17 to fill in a questionnaire. The results showed that child maltreatment is more prevalent in Vietnam than in the Netherlands. This was particularly true for emotional abuse (31.8% versus 8.5%), neglect (25% versus 4%) and physical abuse (19% versus 7%). Only reported sexual abuse was lower in Vietnam than in the Netherlands (2.6% versus 5.8%). But this could also be due to the cultural taboo around reporting it, Tran suggests.

More prevalent in single-parent families

Tran discovered patterns that could form the basis of a more targeted approach to preventing child abuse. From the questionnaires, she concluded that boys in Vietnam are at slightly higher risk of sexual or physical abuse during childhood. Furthermore, almost all forms of maltreatment are more prevalent in single-parent families. Tackling child abuse should therefore also focus explicitly on single parents.

Effects of abuse

Tran also researched the effects of child maltreatment. She concluded that all forms of abuse have a negative emotional effect on the child. Children who have suffered from physical and/or sexual abuse also reported lower physical health. She also found a link between sexual and/or emotional abuse and decreased memory performance.

Tiger parents

Tran highlights another striking finding: emotional abuse was reported relatively often by the children of parents with high socioeconomic status. She also found that children who had experienced this form of maltreatment often had better results at school. She thinks that this could be related to ‘tiger parenting,’ a strict form of parenting that is popular in Vietnam that involves using emotional discipline to attain outstanding academic achievements.

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