When should a child be considered adult?
Children across Vietnam have been given the chance to voice their opinions on when a young person should be officially refered to as an adult.
After campaigning via Vietnam’s Children’s Helpline and the internet, Plan Vietnam carried out child polling in 40 schools in 10 provinces during the months of August and September. This poll allowed them to collect data from an estimated 20,000 children.
In Vietnam, there is confusion in regards to the age at when a young person is is considered an adult. Working age, the age of consent, and marriageable age all differ and even within those examples, there is conflicting legislation that continues to complicate this issue.
Generally young people are considered adults at age 16. However, the Convention on the Rights of the Child says that adulthood begins at 18.
As part of the Child Polling initiative, Plan Vietnam recently visited Sac Son province and attended four schools. Following the trip, Nguyen Thi An, Child Protection Program Manager of Plan Vietnam said: “There is urgent need for clarification. Vietnam is fast changing and the opportunities that are open to young people and the demands placed on them are changing.”
“When we visited Soc Son province, we spoke to a range of young people and their teachers and they shared their hopes for the future. Young people who might have been expected to marry early are now waiting till they’re 30. Children, who might have been working in rice fields by the age of 15, now feel they’re better able to assist their families by staying on in school.”
“At Plan, we believe children between the ages of 16 and 18 are still not fully-developed and need to be protected by their family, society, and their government. We have to be even more careful than ever to safeguard these children and their rights.”
Child Polling is now being carried out with the assistance and support of the Children’s Bureau and National Assembly. Additionally, Plan Vietnam is also being assisted by Child Fund, Save the Children, World Vision, and UNICEF. The initiative is also supported by the Children’s Forum which is currently organized at four levels: commune, district, city, and country. At a national level, five forums have been successfully held with a large number of child participants from provinces across Vietnam.
Meanwhile, in Soc Son, Plan staff have found that youth have their own ideas in regards to when they should be studying, working, and even getting married. Hoa, 14, of Tanh Minh secondary school said: “I don’t think I’ll get married till I’m 24 or 25. I want to see the world. I want to be a flight attendant.”
Than, 16, of Soc Son high school said: “I want to go to college and become a policeman. I don’t expect to get married before I’m 30. My family has let me choose my path for myself.”
Learn more about Plan's work in Vietnam.