Education Ministry takes flak for child-abuse failings

Education Ministry takes flak for child-abuse failings

Activists use black masks to represent
Activists use black masks to represent "devils in teacher's clothing" to denounce sex attacks by teachers on schoolchildren at a protest at the Education Ministry on Ratchadamnoen Road on Friday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

A network of 92 organisations has called on the Education Ministry to step up proactive measures to stamp out sex attacks on schoolchildren following recent abuse scandals in three provinces.

Network representatives on Friday handed a letter to Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan urging him to take action.

They also submitted a list of nearly 10,000 people who signed a petition through change.org supporting the call.

Waraporn Chamsanit, manager of the Women's Wellbeing and Gender Justice Programme, said schools should be safe places for children.

She also called on the Education Ministry to not stand idly by and let children and their parents seek justice on their own.

The ministry, she said, must step forward and file lawsuits against offending teachers, and offer legal help to victims' families and provide victims with protection and counselling.

If teachers or education personnel are guilty of sex crimes, the ministry must dish out severe punishment by sacking them and revoking their teaching licences, Ms Waraporn said.

The ministry must also come up with proactive measures to prevent such incidents in schools and set up independent mechanisms using experts to handle complaints, she said.

School directors and teachers must have guidelines on protecting children's rights and gender equality, Ms Waraporn added.

Speaking after receiving the letter, Mr Nataphol said had set up a centre to help victims and protect other schoolchildren from further abuse. He said the network's proposals will be used when drawing up future preventive measures.

"Rest assured. The Education Ministry will not let wrongdoers remain in education circles and ruin the reputation of other teachers and schools," he said.

Early this month, police charged seven men -- five teachers and two alumni of a school in Mukdahan province -- with gang-raping a 14-year-old student over course of a year. Three of the teachers were also charged with raping a 16-year-old student.

Also this month, a 39-year-old teacher in Buri Ram was accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl. Last month, a primary school director in Phetchabun was charged with abusing a student in a video that went viral.


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