Many primary school-aged children at risk of drug exposure in Thailand

Many primary school-aged children are at risk of drug exposure in Thailand according to a recent study, Bangkok Post reported.

Over 92,000 primary school-age children in Thailand are at risk of exposure to narcotics due to growing up in impoverished families with parents struggling with drug addiction, as per the findings of a study conducted by Mahidol University’s National Institute for Child and Family Development (NICFD).

The study analysed 1,309 families residing in Bangkok slums, each with at least one child up to the age of six, and revealed that 83 families or 6% have parents or guardians with a history of drug addiction.

Taking this data into account, the NICFD estimates there may be at least 154,800 similar impoverished families with no children or with either children of primary school age, which translates to 92,880 children in that age range at risk. The study defined “poor families” as those receiving a 600-baht a month subsidy for six years from the time of their child’s birth.

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Findings also showed that parents from such families are at least 2.4 times more likely to use narcotics and be at risk of drug addiction than those not meeting the criteria. Additionally, 60% of these families tend to raise their children with violence. NICFD director-general, Dr Adisak Plitapolkarnpim, believes that better integration of databases for drug addiction and child support subsidies could help tackle the situation.

For 2022, the database containing information about those who received subsidies includes 2.58 million people and shows that at least 16.32 billion baht has been spent. Dr Adisak recommended that future governments make investing in primary school-aged children a priority and provide psychological training to help them resist the temptation to experiment with drugs.

NICFD lecturer Panadda Thanasettakorn emphasised the importance of adults creating a suitable, non-violent environment to nurture children and strengthen their emotional ability to resist narcotics. In a related issue, NICFD deputy director-general Dr. Apichat Jitcharoen pointed out another study that the institution is conducting on the impact of cannabis on foetuses. The matter is of concern, as an increasing number of pregnant women in impoverished communities are using cannabis during pregnancy.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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