Vietnamese Students Stand Up to Protect Children!

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The Youth from the Hospitality & Catering Industry in Vietnam takes the lead and inspires others to protect children! 

Read Students’ & Teachers’ Testimonies.

Students from La Boulangerie Française in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam are taking the lead and inspiring others to protect children!

Sexual exploitation of children in the context of domestic and foreign travel happens when child sex offenders take advantage of travel and tourism services and infrastructure to facilitate their crimes. It is a global issue and affects not only the victims but also the travel and tourism industry where these crimes take place. However, workers in the industry can play their part to prevent such crimes and ensure the resilience and sustainability of the industry.

That’s why the Association of Southeast Asian Social Enterprises for Training in Hospitality & Catering (ASSET-H&C), a network of hospitality and catering vocational schools for vulnerable youths, partnered with ECPAT International and The Code to help students develop the skills and knowledge to tackle the issue! In this process, five vocational schools took a pledge on #ProtectingChildrenInTourism to create awareness among their teams, students, and partners. Altogether, 919 people have been sensitized, while 26 teachers and 117 students have been trained to recognize potential cases of sexual exploitation of children and how to report to responsible persons. The topic and training materials developed by ECPAT International and The Code have been incorporated into the Life Skill curriculum of many ASSET-H&C member schools to prepare tourism workers of tomorrow for the zero-tolerance approach to sexual exploitation of children. Among these schools is La Boulangerie Francaise – Ho Chi Minh City.

La Boulangerie Française in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnamese Students – La Boulangerie

Beloved by all, good bread and pastries are a global staple and can be found everywhere from French 5-star restaurants to Vietnamese street stalls. Meanwhile, most economically disadvantaged youth in Vietnam lack the opportunities and access to sustainable professions that would enable them to break out of the poverty trap. To address this gap, La Boulangerie Française Ho Chi Minh, a project launched in 2017 by the Institut Européenne de Coopération et de Développement (IECD), offers vulnerable Vietnamese youth intensive training in Bakery and Pastry to promote their professional and social integration.

The 18-month training program is designed to foster a comprehensive development of the beneficiaries and includes English, Life skills and IT lessons as well as an introduction to entrepreneurship. By the end of their training, students are equipped to become highly skilled and responsible adults who are socially well integrated and have the ability to become agents of their own development.

La Boulangerie Française in Ho Chi Minh City operates as a social enterprise. The school sells best products made by students during their practice sessions to cover their accommodation, food, healthcare and training expenses. Every year, the project offers board and training opportunities to 20 students with socio-economic disadvantages: 60% are young women, 20% come from ethnic minorities, and 70% from remote areas of Vietnam. This course is a resounding success, with 85% of graduates so far successfully landing a sustainable job or seeking self-employment within the industry, despite the challenges of the hospitality & tourism sector caused by COVID-19.


Students’ & Teachers’ Testimonies

Why the training on child protection on travel and tourism will be helpful for your future job?

Ms. Thu, student (Class 6)

  After graduating, I will become a baker and will work in the catering, hospitality, tourism, and travel industries. Among the customers using the service, some might be traveling with children who are victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. It’s important for me to be aware of this problem, know how to identify and report this to my managers and law enforcement to protect children from consequences that may affect their lives.

Besides, customers nowadays have many choices and carefully choose their destinations. A hotel or facility that would ignore or, worse, facilitate such activities will lose credibility and customers. Taking action to identify and expose crimes of sexual exploitation of children will help my future workplace gain credibility towards the authority and the people, improve our reputation, and gain more trust from customers. Also, if the place I work for has many customers and does a good business, my job will also be more stable and I will have more chances to grow steadily in my career.

In addition, my knowledge about the issue of sexual exploitation of children can be beneficial in my future job interview, if the recruiter would ask some questions about how to handle situations related to child protection. I am confident that I already have the answers they are looking for. This will bring me better chances to work in reputable and responsible hotels, restaurants, and resorts.

How will you contribute to combating sexual exploitation of children in your future jobs?

Mr. Hoang, Student (Class 6)

I will raise my co-workers’ awareness about sexual exploitation of children: how to identify potential risks to keep a close watch in our daily job and promptly report to management and authorities for timely prevention.

For example, if I see a child with an adult entering a hotel/motel but the adult can neither present the child’s documents nor answer some questions about the relationship with the child, I will know that the child may be at risk. I will ask more questions. It is necessary to find a way to keep that person at the place and gather more information to report to the management level, or police.

Another example I can think of is when I see disadvantaged children, such as children that sell lottery tickets or polish shoes to earn money, at restaurants, hotels, motels. I will talk to them to learn more. Children living in hardship will bear higher risks of being approached, exploited and abused by offenders.

Now I know how to handle and report potential situations of sexual exploitation of children to managers, and authorities or apply the internal procedures to combat sexual exploitation of children according to company policies – and at the same time avoid risks and dangers for the children as well as myself. I will also share with my family members and my community that they should teach their children about personal boundaries and body parts that cannot be touched by others, and how to prevent sexual abuse, including from the people in the circle of trust. In the future, if possible, I will participate in helping disadvantaged children to stay safe. I will teach them how to protect themselves from the risk of sexual abuse and exploitation.

How did you introduce the topic of combating the sexual exploitation of children to your students?  Why do you find the training useful for them?

Ms. Quyen – Pedagogy Coordinator & Life Skill Trainer

Well aware that sexual exploitation of children is a crime that leaves serious consequences on the victim’s physical and mental health, as well as their family, their community, tourism industry, and society, I feel I have a responsibility to share this content with more people and most importantly, my students.

I use the teaching manual provided by ASSET H&C, ECPAT International, and The Code to share with the students of La Boulangerie Française – HCMC. Since this is an important topic and it is necessary to build students’ awareness of their roles and responsibilities in combating sexual exploitation of children, I have taught them “slowly but carefully”.

The teaching manual includes three modules, which I divided into three direct two-hours teaching sessions, because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City,  Modules 2 and 3 were delivered online.

MODULE 1: The sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism: basic concepts

MODULE 2: The sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism in the world and in South-East Asia

MODULE 3: Combating the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism

In each section, I conveyed the information by organizing activities such as watching video clips and then answering questions, group discussions, solving situations, or answering guided questions. This approach allows my students to think and give their opinions before they are provided with knowledge.

Module 1 – Group Discussion

Before starting a new Module, I always gave them reflection questions about their perception of the sexual exploitation of children such as: “Please write down your opinion”, or “What is your role in combating sexual exploitation of children” so that they had the opportunity to look back and realize their roles and responsibilities.

The students’ answers to the questions after the end of the training showed that they fully understand that sexual exploitation of children is a widespread crime and every day there are still a lot of children who fall victims of this crime around the world. In addition, our students have learned the process of reporting suspicious cases and attending children before the arrival of relevant authorities, when they face either suspected or certain cases of sexual exploitation at work as well as in daily life.

Most importantly, they realize that they are one of the key actors to prevent sexual exploitation of children in their future roles as workers of the travel and tourism industry.

Personally, as a Life Skill trainer, upon realizing that combating the sexual exploitation of children is an essential skill for my students that can be extended further, I tried to liaise with NGOs in Vietnam such as Pacific Link, Alliance Anti Traffic Vietnam to organize more training sessions on “Prevention of human trafficking and safe migration” to convey information and build more determination from the part of my students to keep themselves and vulnerable groups of children safe from being exploited.

In addition, I am working with our local partner – Thu Duc College of Technology –  to extend this training to students of their Faculty of Tourism, spreading more knowledge on sexual exploitation of children and build a sense of responsibility in these future tourism workers.

ECPAT International and The Code congratulate teachers and students from La Boulangerie Française in Ho Chi Minh City on taking this important initiative! 

ECPAT International and The Code congratulate teachers and students from La Boulangerie Française in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on taking the lead and inspiring others to protect children! Read more about preventing child exploitation in travel and tourism with the industry’s future workers in the “Good Tourism” Insight.

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ECPAT International is a member of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group chairing Expert Group on Child Protection (to learn more click here)

ECPAT International as part of the project “Developing travel & tourism with child protection in focus for a sustainable post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery” is engaged in the Corona-Tourism-Package. The German Federal Government has initiated in March 2021 to retain the structures of the tourism sector and to empower local actors to offer products and services in tourism. In the spirit of “build back better”, the aim is also to improve the ecological and social aspects of tourism and to achieve improved resilience. The measures are closely tailored to the needs of the local people.

Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) said: “Together with the partners and the partner countries of the BMZ, we want to find sustainable ways out of this crisis. With the Corona Tourism Package, we can preserve and revitalize tourism as a lever for sustainable development in developing countries and emerging economies”. 

The project “Developing travel & tourism with child protection in focus for a sustainable post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery” is implemented with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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