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Thai Teens in Crisis: Child Abuse and a Degenerating Education System – Could This Be the Start of a Youth Rebellion?

Amid the hustle and bustle of Siam Square, a group of youngsters buck the trend of the idle youth, hoisting placards that echo a resounding loathe against child exploitation and abuse (Image Source: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul). Prior to the upcoming National Youth Day this Wednesday, a massive population survey targeting some 20,000 young individuals aged 15-21 conducted by Thai Health Promotion Foundation’s technical hub throws light on four main dilemmas faced by the youth of the country.

Spearheading the discussion surrounding these concerns is Nathaya Boonpakdee, director of the ThaiHealth’s office poised towards elevating child, youth, and family health. One of the crucial issues raised is the ongoing pandemic’s ill-effects on young people hailing from single-parent families with limited incomes or from skipped generation families, commonplace in Thailand’s countryside, where grandparents have taken up parental duties due to various reasons. Nathaya emphasizes that such demographics receive minimal specific initiatives designed to enhance their life’s quality.

Next in line is the alarmingly steep decline in the learning capabilities of Thai youth across all education levels in fundamental domains such as reading, math, science, and social studies. The culprit, according to Nathaya, is the forced transition to online learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has dominated the last three years. This shift has affected a large population of students who have had to adapt their education from lower secondary to upper secondary levels through online platforms.

A third concern revolves around the rising mental health issues faced by the youth as a result of the isolation and stress brought by virtual study sessions. With symptoms ranging from mild anxiety and stress to severe depression, the limited resources and access to mental health treatments exacerbate the situation.

Last but not least, Nathaya brought attention to the sharp increase in violence towards children, a concern that includes sexual harassment. An astounding 46% of young individuals experience confrontations with violence, often within their own home settings. Adding to this, a global survey indicated that out of 30 countries, Thailand unfortunately sits at the unsettling 29th rank when it comes to the cyber threats faced by its children.

The official divulged that only roughly 30% of the families of these young people present palatable conditions while the rest fall under the vulnerable bracket. None the less, this too poses as an opportunity for the Thai administration and society as a whole to rise to the challenge and work towards the advancement and security of their youth.

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