Kids caught in vicious cycle of violence

Kids caught in vicious cycle of violence

World Vision urges 'positive parenting'

Youngsters take to the Skywalk at Siam Square with placards denouncing violence against children. The World Vision Foundation of Thailand has found that large numbers of children in the country suffer emotional and physical violence, often a result of being disciplined by family members. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Youngsters take to the Skywalk at Siam Square with placards denouncing violence against children. The World Vision Foundation of Thailand has found that large numbers of children in the country suffer emotional and physical violence, often a result of being disciplined by family members. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Three out of five children aged 1-14 years in Thailand have experienced some form of emotional violence and over half have been subjected to physical punishment, while 4% have endured severe disciplinary maltreatment by family members, according to the latest research by the World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT).

Speaking at a conference to mark Children's Rights Day Tuesday, WVFT chairperson Kleo-Thong Hetrakul said violence against children is a serious problem in Thai society, as it doesn't only harm the well-being of the children themselves but also undermines the productivity and prosperity of the country as a whole.

"Our study found that more than 50% of Thai children [who responded] had experienced violent punishment by their parents, caretakers or teachers. Many children suffered injuries as a result, and often believed it was their fault. We also found that 62% of children aged 1-14 years experienced emotional aggression and 4% of children aged 1-14 years in Thailand had suffered from the worst form of disciplinary action by their families," she said.

Ms Kleo-Thong said violence against children is often accepted by adults and the children themselves as a normal part of life. Physical discipline in Thailand remains a common practice not only in homes, but also in schools, care centres and juvenile justice facilities.

In terms of which countries find physical punishment to be an appropriate way of disciplining children, Thailand ranked seventh out of 75 nations, making it one of the worst offenders.

Thailand's One Stop Crisis Center (OSCC) recorded 23,977 such cases in 2015 via its 1300 hotline. Of those, 45% or 10,712 cases dealt with any form of violence against children while 2,470 cases referred to physical abuse.

"Lack of knowledge and awareness in positive disciplining and parenting skills are mostly to be found among the parents with an insufficient educational background, and vulnerable children such as those with a chronic illness or disability and children living in poverty are at a higher risk of violence," Ms Kleo-Thong said.

She also noted that violence against children costs US$7 trillion a year globally. In the East Asia and Pacific region, child maltreatment is estimated at US$209 billion. That is equivalent to 7 trillion Thai baht, or 2% of the region's GDP.

Kraingkai Chaimuangdee, director of the Life Skills Development Foundation, said violence can affect a child for the rest of their life and have severe consequences for their physical, psychological and mental health.

They are also more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence, passing on the same behavioural patterns to their peers and future generations, he added.

WVFT director Sarawut Rachasrimuang said policymakers must engage a wide range of stakeholders to end this vicious cycle as the issue of protecting children from coming to harm must not be left solely to the duty bearers, but rather requires collaboration from all sectors.

"Parents, caregivers and the public need to change their attitudes and behaviour by stopping all forms of violence and using a positive disciplinary approach to raising children," he said.

The WVFT launched a campaign Tuesday called "It takes you and me to end violence against children", including a related walk in Siam Square.


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