RMIT is working with UNICEF Vietnam on a campaign to end violence against children.
Child abuse is an invisible but pervasive social problem in Vietnam, according to UNICEF Vietnam.
Research indicates up to three quarters of children aged between 2 to 14 years have experienced psychological or physical punishment at the hands of their parents.
But that may just be the tip of the iceberg.
RMIT Postdoctoral Researcher Jessica Noske-Turner from RMIT’s School of Media and Communications explained the team is focused on the Communication for Development (C4D) component of the UNICEF Vietnam campaign.
“When we talk about communication, we include two-way communication,” Dr Noske-Turner said.
“Sometimes it’s about raising awareness and giving messages to ask for changing behaviours.
“But it can also include policy advocacy and getting groups together to come up with their own ideas and solutions and ways to communicate that to the government.”
Educating the public about two-way communication is what C4D is about, she explained.
This year in February, the research team worked with UNICEF Vietnam to unpack the NGO’s current practices and start a process to examine the campaign’s C4D strategy.
One of the main outcomes of these meetings was the identification of the need for more involvement with the people the campaign targets.
Research Assistant Ho Anh Tung noted that UNICEF Vietnam engaged primarily with Vietnamese government ministries and not enough with the people involved in the issue being studied.
“UNICEF Vietnam has identified a goal to involve teachers, parents and children in deeper levels of participation,” Mr Tung said.
“This will enable a mutual learning processes where children could identify what they think could be done to improve the situation.”
The hope is that the more involved these stakeholders are in the process, the more appropriate and effective the project will be.
Dr Noske-Turner cautioned that, although the project promises to provide valuable insight to the pressing issue of child abuse in Vietnam, it is still in its early stages and the researchers don’t have all the answers yet.
In fact, the program is only a third of the way through its three year duration.
As well as engaging with UNICEF Vietnam, the project is working with UNICEF offices in India and Kenya, with the research building on the theoretical framework developed by Professor Jo Tacchi, Director of Research and Innovation at RMIT Europe.