Child advocacy networks have urged the government to introduce a ban on corporal punishment of children to avoid inflicting long-time mental suffering and causing low self-esteem.
Naiyana Thanawattho, a child psychology expert from Save the Children, yesterday called on the government to work on a law prohibiting corporal punishment such as striking children under any circumstances.
She said Thailand currently has a child protection law which bars teachers from hitting their students in schools. However, the law did not cover physical punishment against children in their own households, foster homes or child development centres.
Ms Naiyana said physical punishment not only physically injures children but also causes psychological trauma and low self-esteem which can hinder their long-term development.
Also, children who experience domestic corporal punishment tend to use violence against others as they have been taught to believe that this is an acceptable approach to addressing problems.
Ms Naiyana said physical punishment of children was a global issue and Thai child protection laws needed to be reformed to adjust attitudes towards child punishment among parents, teachers and adults.
A campaign against corporal punishment has also been jointly launched by Save the Children, the Childline Thailand Foundation (CTF), the Life Skills Development Foundation and the Gabfai Community Theatre.
A similar campaign has also been implemented by the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency, which has given priority to this issue in six countries across the Asia-Pacific region.
The six countries are Thailand, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar, Pakistan and Vietnam.
The selection was based on the countries where domestic corporal punishment remains legal.
CTF director Ilya Smirnoff has urged the government to review Thai child protection laws which do not clearly stipulate that corporal punishment is illegal.
Any kind of physical punishment must be regarded as violating the law, she said.
Although measures against violence on children were incorporated in the current national strategy in 2014, the strategy did not ban corporal punishment against children in all places, she added.
According to Ms Smirnoff, statistics indicate that about 77.3% of Thai children have experienced corporal punishment and psychological abuse from being disciplined at home or in school.