The issue of school violence in Vietnam has previously been addressed in some papers, but only with reference to a specific locality or combined with other issues under the broader theme of child abuse. However, news about school violence is now appearing in Vietnam's national daily media at an increased frequency and intensity, and attracting general public attention.
Despite the existence of legal regulations related to child protection in general and prohibiting school violence in particular, cases of school violence still appear regularly in the media. This raises questions about the enforcement of current legislation and whether the key causes of violence have been properly addressed.
There is no generally applicable definition of school violence but the term "school violence" used in this paper includes both acts of violence and bullying among students and those performed by teachers on students within the school grounds.
In terms of physical violence, quantitative evidence from the Young Lives study shows a higher level of fighting reported by 8-year-olds in 2009, as compared with children of the same age in 2002. Such incidents were common among students in the sample, regardless of their economic status. The data from Young Lives also allow us to track changes in the rate of physical violence as the same group of children grow up (so picking up differences by child age). The rate of children beaten by other children more than tripled between Rounds 1 and 2 (when the Older Cohort were aged 8 and 12). In contrast, cases where teachers beat students dropped from 3.84 per cent in Round 1 to an insignificant level in Round 2. However, when comparing 8-year-old children at two different times (2002 and 2009), we see an increasing trend in physical violence across the board.
Analysis of emotional violence was more difficult because the data recorded both answers by caregivers and by students themselves. It is interesting that students reported a lower rate of peer bullying (19.7 per cent) than that reported by caregivers (24.8 per cent).
Results from the qualitative data collected from interviews with 36 of the Young Lives children uncovered the long-term impact of school violence as well as its causes. Causes of violence among students vary greatly, and sometimes there is no explicit reason. Therefore, more weight should be given to preventative measures such as improving children?s life skills or raising their awareness about the impacts of school violence. Responses from parents and school to violence among students are very important. The ways in which violence is addressed and disputes are settled can have long-term, even lifelong, impacts on children's futures. The right intervention, therefore, requires effort and closer co-operation between families and schools.
Key policy implications of this paper include closer cooperation between the school, family, community and police, accompanied by the introduction of life skills for children into the school curriculum, training in positive discipline for teachers and better data collection.