Dear Vietnam, Please Stop Promoting Violence

There was an article today about a Vietnamese girl suffering from suicidal thoughts after being constantly criticized and bullied by her peers, and, her teacher. A few friends of mine on Facebook shared the link and said that they have witnessed or even experienced the same thing when they were at school. Then we realize, we were all victims of abuse.

It’s not uncommon in Vietnam for kids to get beat. It’s not uncommon for humans to resort to violence here. Because that’s how we interpret “Actions speak louder than words”. Somehow we believe “tough love” spreads humanity.  And the article above is just another case that pops up once a while. People have become so numb to brutality that many people think the girl was overreacting.

The 14-year-old was the target of criticism. The teacher tried to find fault at her, called her “mad” and made fun of her in front of the class. The student was vehemently scolded at, even cursed at and slapped by the teacher (1). But sure, it’s normal, so stop bitching about it.

Earlier in April, a child was writing too slow when his teacher slapped him in the face. The slap was so hard that he had to go to hospital. But sure, nothing unusual, so get over it.

The most popular comment on the article was, “Who doesn’t want their students to be well-behaved, and earn good grades? No one wants to yell or hit a child. You may not believe, but it hurts us too, when we have to hit them. From my view, if it’s your child, you can scold, hit it, or teach it any way you want. But as a teacher, you only act as a “second mother” in class, so you should not hit them. It is impossible not to scold at them when you got frustrated. It should be acceptable, unless it’s too vehemently. Our job is not as easy or relaxing as you think! Please sympathize with us, so we have the motivation to carry on this career of “nurturing human beings”” (2)

Yes, violence happens at home, in school, everywhere. We grew up with it, and slowly justify and promote abuse. 

There would be no survey showing how many students are abused every day. How can there be, when students don’t even know they are being abused? Do students have to be taken to the hospital for broken bones to be recognized as victim of abuse? How about fear? Shame? Depression? No? Having suicidal thoughts is normal, huh?

It’s not like the kid is killed. Haha. 

How disappointing, when children don’t even know their rights. 

In Taiwan, if a child gets beaten by their parents, they may call an emergency number for rescue. Violence is forbidden in any forms, any place. But in Vietnam, it is normal.

The famous saying in Vietnam goes “Spare the rod, spoil the child”.

It goes back to the belief that we think violence is an act of love. We hit our dogs when they poo in the living room. We beat our kids when they make noise. We call our students “worthless” when they can’t solve a math problem. To our belief, we verbally, physically and psychologically abuse them because we love them dearly, because we care for them, and we want the best for them.

But that’s not true. We abuse them because we feel helpless. We are scared. We don’t know what to do, or how to reason with them.

My family never quarrels. But I was becoming more hot-tempered as I reached puberty, and conflicts happened. My Mom didn’t allow that kind of attitude and behavior around the house, but yet, she never lost her calmness. So one day she said, “You know I regret. I regret that I spare the rod. Not even once in your life, you got hit. You know teenagers, like your friends, by this age (she meant my age, which was around 14 at that time) still got beat. They got beat so hard, they have to take a day off from school. And you don’t even know “pain”. You have such spoiled ill manner because of me.”

My Mom couldn’t explain why I can be so hot-tempered while the whole family is calm and chill. She couldn’t understand why I have to yell and throw stuffs. In fact, neither did I.

Looking back at it now, I realize that I was acting just like those teachers in class. I disagreed with my parents about something, but I don’t know how to reason with them. My brain was at a loss of words, but filled with emotions instead. I got frustrated and threw tantrum all over the place.

I was acting like an animal. 

I can’t count the times my teacher just spent the whole lessons yelling cursing the shit out of us.  Sometimes she would blame our parents, too for not educating us well at home, so we become lazy, and dull, and stupid. So what a child thinks, when it witnesses, or experienced abuse?

For me as a kid, I thought that if I have the power or the authority over someone or something, I can get violent towards them, too. When I’m mad, I would smash the plates in the kitchen. I would yell angrily at other students, just because I think I can. I was the best student in the class. I was in favor of the teacher. They must obey me.Same with me being a brat at home. To me, brutality was the norm.

We call the process of learning “learn to become a human”, but we treat each other like animals in the classroom. And later, we release all these animals into society.  


I think yelling “You stupid cow” won’t help anyone absorbing the knowledge faster. Hitting them in the back with a thick wooden ruler won’t make them want to study. Shaming them and their parents won’t make them “a better person”. All the brutal language and violence may, of course, make students develop “defense mechanism”. They may become obedient. They may follow rules, the rituals. They may score high marks and even win great prizes. But they will never know the joy of going to school, of learning something of your interest, or, of applying what they learn into practice. Neither do the teachers know the joy of enlighten their students, of discussing the lessons and listening to the other opinions, of learning something too.

Maybe it’s time we realize, one of the purpose of our lives, is to learn to live together in compassion, understanding, and harmony, NOT in anger, in fear, or at war. 

So please, stop promoting violence.


For reference:




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