On March 22, five unnamed ninth graders at Phu Ung Secondary School in Hung Yen Province’s An Thi District stripped a fellow classmate named Hanh and repeatedly hit her brutally on the face and chest with no one intervening to stop the assault.
It was captured in a 40-second video by another student and circulated on social media.
The school administration only knew about it a day later and suspended the five students for a week and ordered the video deleted. Their families meet with the beaten student’s family at school for an apology on March 25.
Hanh’s family has since accused the school of not providing accurate information about the assault promptly and is now asking authorities to investigate the school’s cover-up.
Hanh herself is being treated for acute stress disorder at the Hung Yen Mental Hospital since March 28.
The case has come to the notice of government officials, including Minister of Education Phung Xuan Nha, who has ordered a thorough investigation and punishment for everyone responsible.
The school education board faces dismissal while its principal has been suspended.
Hanh sits on a bed in the Hung Yen Mental Hospital. Photo by VnExpress/Duong Tam
Hanh of class 9A at Phu Ung said it started when she was asked by a classmate to bring a hat downstairs in the morning of March 22, but she refused. At that time, she was threatnened.
In the afternoon, she was accused by another classmate of writing love letters to her lover, but Hanh denied the accusation.
Then she was beaten.
She was beaten once again later that day, this time it was filmed.
She was too scared to even talk to anyone about the event.
“I felt lonely in class. I have a group of friends who sympathize with me, but they will not speak up.”
After the ordeal, Hanh went to school as usual. But after learning that images of her being naked had been spread online, she just wanted to stay at home.
“I felt traumatized,” she said. “I couldn’t face them.” She said seeing the classmates who beat her just brought back the experience.
When she was admitted, she was “shaking with fear,” according to hospital records. It is too early to say when she would be discharged, an unidentified doctor said.
Hanh is generally quiet in class, Hoa Thi Trang, the class teacher, said.
Trang said when asked Hanh why she did not complain about her assault, she said it was because she feared she would be beaten again.
When the school informed Hanh’s family members of the assault at the beginning, they thought she had been beaten by one person, Nguyen Van Doanh, her uncle, said.
It was only on March 25, when they were asked to go to the school to meet with the five students that they came to know the truth, he said.
“When I saw there were five families there, I realized that my niece was assaulted by five people, not one. A teacher had told me Hanh was only ‘slightly beaten’.”
Doanh said his family decided to file a complaint after they also discovered the video, which the school never mentioned to them.
“The school’s response [to the assault] has made our family upset because they were slow and didn’t tell us the full story of what happened.”
Nguyen Van Doanh, Hanh’s uncle, shows reporters his niece’s torn-up shirt after the assault. Photo by VnExpress/Duong Tam
Nhu Manh Phong, principal of Phu Ung, has been suspended while the class teacher Trang has been replaced by another teacher to “stabilize the students’ mental state,” said Duong Tuan Doan, chief of the An Thi District People’s Committee.
Minister Nha visited Hanh in the hospital, and said later the event was “painful.”
“The teachers who did not do their jobs must be dealt with. Students lacking morals and behaving indecently also need to be dealt with properly.”
Nguyen Van Phong, the Hung Yen Province chairman, has instructed the An Thi District People’s Committee to consider dismissing and disciplining the school’s administration board for deliberately concealing information and for being too lenient.
The class teacher also needs to be punished for “not knowing what the students were up to,” he said.
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