Vietnamese parents are strange creatures – hardworking and diligent, devoted to their children, yet unperturbed by logical thinking. Of course, I’m generalizing here; but nobody can deny that many parents in this country seem to not have their priorities straight when it comes to the wellbeing of their children.
Take an example I encountered recently. I observed a family eating at a hot pot restaurant. The parents around 40, the two children, a boy and a girl, about 16 and 10 years old, respectively. Due to the heat, the young daughter decided to sit right in front of a large fan to cool off. Her parents, however, told her to move slightly away from the fan. “You will get a cold,” I heard them say.
Now, there is certainly not much to be criticized here. While it may seem a tad overprotective considering the fact that being cold has nothing to do with catching the common cold, it didn’t do their daughter any harm. It merely caused her to sweat more.
As the family left the restaurant, I saw them climb onto two bikes. The father drove a motorbike with his wife on the back seat, while their son drove an electric bike with his sister on the back.
The parents wore helmets. The children did not.
Here is where the logical thinking stops. These parents were so protective of their daughter’s health that they feared her sitting too close to a fan, yet they have no problem letting their children brave the crazy streets of Hanoi without any head protection. While I am no doctor myself, I am confident that a vast majority of medical professionals will tell you that a cold is preferable to having your skull cracked open on the hard asphalt.
I appreciate that revolting teenagers may refuse to listen to the advice of their parents, but this was definitely not the case here. The parents seemed completely oblivious to the dangers their children were putting themselves in. And if you have ever driven on Vietnamese roads, you know that this is absolutely no isolated incident. Quite the opposite, in fact; seeing parents on motorbikes with their children well protected and secured is an event rare enough to stop you in your tracks.
And it’s not just motorbikes, either. My mind struggles to comprehend the stupidity of people when I see a child standing inside a moving car, looking out through the sunroof. Even an accident at a speed as slow as 20 kilometers per hour paired with an unlucky fall could easily break the child’s neck.
Of course, this is deeply rooted in the complete lack of awareness of traffic safety among a vast majority of the Vietnamese population. Very few think of safety when they drive motorbikes or cars. They are unaware that their thin plastic helmets will protect them about as well as an eggshell or that the seatbelt is designed to keep them from being thrown from their car in an accident.
For most, the issue, particularly when it comes to helmets, is not one of safety. It is one of money. The police may stop an adult motorbike driver without a helmet, then make them pay a fine or maybe even confiscate their bike. But no police officer will stop you if you have a child without a helmet on your bike.
It’s as simple as that. A matter of life and death boils down to a choice of convenience or maybe even laziness. Why make your child wear a helmet if the police won’t stop you if you don’t?
The answer is just as simple: Because a common cold can be easily treated. A fatal accident cannot.
Now, guys, this is the first time I write in English here and I know that my English is not good. So I will be more than happy if you can point out where I can improve my writing. Thanks a bunch!

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