Thailand’s kids need more protection, experts say ahead of National Children’s Day

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

In a thought-provoking revelation just ahead of Thailand’s National Children’s Day tomorrow, January 13, experts warn that the nation faces a dire threat of a lost generation.

Despite the usual festivities, academics point to a pressing need for immediate action to secure the well-being, protection, and education of Thai children.

Since 1956, National Children’s Day in Thailand has been a celebration of joy and optimism, filled with fun activities and inspiring speeches about the importance of children in shaping the country’s future. However, as this year’s celebration approaches, a grim reality emerges, casting a shadow over the festivities.

Renowned expert Professor Sompong Jitradup from the Equitable Education Fund issues a stark warning.

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“The current environment is damaging children.”

Almost half of Thai families, he reveals, are grappling with issues like poverty, debt, domestic violence, and other conflicts, leaving many children without the nurturing environment crucial for their growth.

Serious deficiencies in the education system compound the problem, with a lack of emphasis on democratic values, creativity, critical thinking, and innovation. Shockingly, reports of teachers verbally and physically abusing students persist, despite the Education Ministry banning physical punishment in 2003.

Surapong Kongchantuk, president of Social Action for Children and Women, condemns the violent disciplinary methods as a serious blight on Thai education. He shares disturbing incidents, including a teacher hitting an 11 year old student 70 times for failing to complete homework and another hitting a toddler with a metal plate.

More action needed

Despite the upcoming Children’s Day festivities and the government’s planned distribution of over 100,000 gifts, concerns linger. Professor Sompong stresses that achieving the set goals of Study Well & Be Happy and Let’s Hold Hands and Move Ahead Together requires more than mere rhetoric.

Wassana Kaonoparat, head of the Centre for the Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation, calls on the government to uphold its commitments to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights. She emphasises the need for child protection to end the generational cycle of violence against children in society, reported Thai PBS World.

In addition to physical violence, Wassana highlights the dark side of digital technology, calling for measures to combat cyberbullying, victimisation, and abuse via social media. A recent survey shows that most Thai children have simple dreams and ambitions, with education, good health for family members, and understanding teachers topping the list.

However, Wassana emphasises that these dreams can only come true if local administrative bodies, guided by clear guidelines from the Interior Ministry, play an active role in child development. Without significant changes, she warns, Thailand risks not generating quality citizens, despite occasional dedicated days for children’s activities.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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