As November is designated as the month for ending violence against children, women and families, the authorities are reminding the public that they are not alone and that help is available.
Minister of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) Varawut Silpa-archa said that to nurture strong families who protect children from future vulnerabilities, all forms of domestic violence must end, and the sooner the better.
“Not only do we promote the end of violence in November, but we also must regard the issue all year long.
“If violence is found, please report to the MSDHS hotline, 1300, available around the clock or to our official Line account @esshelpme,” Mr Varawut said.
The MSDHS found there were 4,127 cases of violence during the 2022 fiscal year — from September last year to October this year — a jump from 2,493 cases in the previous fiscal year.
The data was collected from calls to the hotline.
Among them, 3,024 cases involved female victims. A total of 67.31% of the cases happened domestically and 32.63% happened outside the family.
The cases mainly involved physical abuse, sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
Another public agency that attempts to end the violence is the Royal Thai Police, which has launched platforms to help victims.
Signs of aggression
Pol Maj Potchalapol Kijpinyochai, a psychiatrist at the child and adolescent department of the Police General Hospital, said violence and aggression among adolescents are fuelled by stressors from family, environment and teenagers themselves.
“Teenagers who show self-destructive behaviour or harmful behaviour towards others usually experience those stressors in life,” Pol Maj Potchalapol said.
The police psychiatrist said aggressive adolescents usually display early signs of mental disorders affecting their emotions, thoughts and behaviours, which might or might not be detected by people in their lives.
“Family, friends and school teachers are primary witnesses to observe the aggression among adolescents,” he said.
Potchalapol: Notes stressors in life
Police might not be able to prevent outbursts if there is no intervention beforehand.
Still, the police force is offering mental care to those who experience violence called “Depress, We Care” and shelter for victims.
The programme offers consultation by psychotherapists via its hotline and Facebook messenger chat, available 24 hours.
The shelter is organised by interdisciplinary social workers who provide for victims experiencing physical and sexual assault or a rough upbringing.
Pol Col Krerkkamol Yamprayoon, chief of the psychiatric and drug department at the Police General Hospital, said the number of psychiatric patients has risen as well as the risks of harmful acts against themselves and others.
He said the law must consider both the age and the impact of the actions of young offenders and well-rounded research as it comes up with a suitable penalty for juvenile offenders involved in such crimes.
Need for family support
Yanee Rajtborirak, director of ThaiHealth’s Healthy Media Hub, said 81% of Thai children have their own tablets and smartphones, which suggests a high degree of digital awareness at least in terms of access.
Citing a cyber threat survey last year, she said children are at risk of cyberbullying and online fraud.
Some children may also be the ones who bully others on social media.
The DQ Institute’s child online safety (COS) index from more than 30 countries showed that Thailand is among low-ranking countries, particularly in children’s digital competency, she said.
The country has plenty of digital infrastructure, but children must be taught online skills to catch up with digital information.
“Thai children must learn how to surf the internet safely and gain benefits from using the internet. The internet is used mainly for entertainment, not for improving lives,” said Ms Yanee.
Ms Yanee said ThaiHealth will create an ecosystem for wellness media to ensure safety and improve people’s online skills in accessing digital information.
Yanee: Mindsets must change
This concept is also called media information digital literacy (MIDL), which is an essential digital skill as proposed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).
Key elements of the MIDL will enable netizens to access, analyse, create and consume media and information for self-improvement.
Aside from helping children, ThaiHealth will improve teachers’ potential to access online media safely and push related policies, she said.
Asked if society lacks a solution to help children who fell victim to cyber threats, Ms Yanee said a survey suggests the importance of family support was placed at a moderate level, but it should be improved.
Safe zones must be created in children’s environment to ensure they feel comfortable to tell adults their problems, she said.
ThaiHealth has developed a mechanism to inspect false information on online platforms. Participation from all sectors is necessary to handle fake news.
Family is also a key element in creating a safe zone for children.
“The mindset of children must be adjusted so they do not grow emotional attachments to objects. We must raise awareness of their self-esteem and value of life,” Ms Yanee said.