If you’re wondering if bullying is strongly present in Thailand, the answer would be yes. Aggressive acts of violence are prevalent and widespread in almost every Thai school. And although some of the schools started to take actions and implement programs that prevent such bullying acts, people still do not consider bullying as a serious alarming matter. They still deal with bullying as a normal experience children go through at schools to “toughen up,” and this perception must indeed be changed. Here is a short review on the status of bullying in Thailand.
|SEE ALSO: #EnoughIsEnough: The NoBullying Campaign|
Bullying in Schools of Thailand
Although bullying is widespread in the schools of Thailand, teachers often disregard the whole issue, and parents ignore to report what happens to their sons or daughters to the school principal. According to a survey that was done among 1,300 teachers and 3,047 students from ages 9 to 11,who are referred to in Thailand as Prathom, and ages 12 to 14, who are referred to in Thailand as Mathayom, it was found that 40% of the students were being bullied two to three times monthly and sometimes even more frequently. Most of the bullying acts that appear in Thai schools are of the verbal nature, but might also include stealing money.
What proves that bullying in Thailand is a major issue is that 89% of the teachers who participated in this survey mentioned that they have seen students bullying other students during school hours before, but the problem was that about 41% of those who agreed that they came across some incidents before said that they didn’t try to stop the bullies, or to interfere. But on the other hand, 70% of those who saw bullying acts reacted in a way or another; some used spanking and others took their food. Either way it was agreed that the bullies must be punished so they would learn to stop such acts.
Bullying is defined as any repetitive intentional act of violence targeted at a person or a group, aiming at harming,intimidating, or humiliating them. Bullying can leave the victim feeling helpless and miserable, with their sense of security threatened and their confidence shattered. It can also leave long-term effects such as depression, anxiety, dropping out of school, or in the worst case suicide.
One of the main issues that was tackled by the UNESCO and Mahidol University in a study that included 30 secondary schools in five different Thai provinces is that students are usually being bullied due to sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) are usually targeted in the schools of Thailand. Although there is a general tone of tolerance with LGBT communities in Thailand, they remain the most targeted category when it comes to school bullying, like everywhere else in the world. According to the study, about 30.9% of students who considered themselves LGBT were being physically bullied, while 29.3% were being verbally bullied, and 24.4% said that they were being sexually harassed.
Bullying might come in the form of verbal abuse that includes gossiping, name calling, or making fun of the victim and it might as well include threatening them by sending messages on social media websites or emails or even text messages. It might also be physical abuse such as spitting, punching, hitting, and pulling hair. When an incident of bullying occurs at school, most of the time it is between a student and another, but in other cases sometimes a teacher is involved. In Thailand, it is quite known that teachers at schools use corporal punishments even though they have been prohibited long time ago. What is worse is that children avoid telling their parents if a teacher physically punishes them, because most of the time they are afraid they will take the blame and might be punished further by their families. Parents should assure their children that they will sit down and discuss any incident of violence with them, without jumping into conclusions or making matters worse for the child.
Preventing Bullying in the schools of Thailand
- Teachers should always teach their children the difference between playing with their peers and acts of bullying and cruelty; they should teach them that making fun of someone in class is an unacceptable act, and out of class as well.
- Teachers should make it easier for students to report any bullying acts they were subjected to, or any they just witnessed.
- On the other hand, students should have the courage to report an act they saw harmful or they did suffer from; they should learn that reporting such acts will not cause them trouble and will not make things worse with the bully.
- Eliminating bullying at schools is not the teachers’ responsibility alone; it’s the parents’ as well; they should teach their children to open up to them, they should inform the school that they take bullying issues seriously and will not accept any harm to fall on their children. They should as well inform schools that they will be waiting for serious reactions against bullying.
- Parents should teach their children what bullying is and should make sure that their children do not turn out to be the bullies themselves.
- Schools should implement policies that deal with bullying and tell teachers what they should do and how they should react with students with bullying behaviors.
Sometimes people do ask, why are there acts of bullying, why the bully bullies in the first place? There might be some answers for such question; among these answers are:
- The bully usually thinks of himself as more powerful than the person he/she is targeting, and they think that bullying others will show off their strength and impress their gang.
- Some bullies just use violence to get what they want: lunch money, food, more friends .
- One reason might be jealousy, or seeing that the victim is better than them in a way or another.
- Some bullies bully others because they have been subjected to bullying themselves, so they want others to feel how they felt and they want to regain the confidence they have lost.
- Finally, they might do it because they are bored and are just having fun!
Cyber Bullying in Thailand
Being a country with a population that reaches 65 million, in which 26% of them own one mobile phone and some even more than one, and 28% have easy Internet access with 16% of them Facebook users, cyber bullying in Thailand is naturally existent and is a valid concern since 2002. Having a fine percentage of cyber bullying, Thailand is still not one of the major countries that suffer from bullying over the Internet, but it is still substantial with 26% to 28% of cyber bullying cases reported in it.
Cyber bullying has been defined as an act of threatening, harassing, harming, humiliating, or embarrassing a person; this act is usually repeated by one person or a group of people over the Internet, whether by sending text messages, emails, messages over social media websites such as Facebook, or accessing the victim’s personal information without their knowledge and sharing some of their pictures; some other cyber bullying acts might include recorded videos or audios.
One of the studies conducted in Thailand to discover the facts regarding cyber bullying was a study done on 2,500 students around the country starting from 12 years old to 24 years old; it was found that among these students, 43% were being threatened over the Internet. One of the outcomes of this study showed that in most cases, students who suffer from divorced parents or violated families usually turn to annoy others over the Internet, as some sort of outlet to the difficulties that they have already faced in their lives.
In order for families to try and stop cyber bullying acts, they should:
- Monitor their children while using the Internet and other technological devices.
- Parents should learn information technology skills so they could understand what their children are doing and if they witnessed something, they know how to deal with it.
Cyber bullying is an issue that is becoming more and more widespread over time, and it is even considered a major problem at some schools that must be taken seriously and prevented. For example, the NIST International School has developed the “Rules of the Cyberspace Highway” and in addition to that at least one Bangkok school has blocked MySpace on all school-based computers.
How Cyber Bullying Should Be Avoided
- Students should avoid any aggressive behavior they face on the Internet, and this can be done by not using their real names in chat rooms, deleting the messages that are received via e-mails, and sometimes the whole e-mail address could be changed in order to stop receiving any harmful messages at all.
- On the parents’ side, they should know well what cyber bullying is and what acts does it include, they should teach themselves how to use the Internet and all the new technological devices, and should discuss everything with their children as well, starting from what they know about bullying, what they consider to be bullying, and what should they do to avoid or prevent it.
- Teachers should use new strategies in teaching their students, and in some cases even social media websites should be banned from schools in the first place, because they not only encourage such acts among students but also distract their learning process..
Bullying Cases in Thailand
Bullying with all its forms and shapes does not stop at the point where one person is affected psychologically, feeling depressed and helpless, but sometimes the problem goes deeper than this; it might end in death, whether the death of the bully or the death of the victim. The victim might think that his life is no longer useful and start thinking about ending it in some way, committing suicide, or he might feel like the only solution is to get rid of the bully and think of killing him. There are several cases that took place in the schools of Thailand, among them are:
- One of the cases in Thailand, Bangkok, is that of the 14-year-old student who found himself driven to the limit by a gang of 17 year-olds, until he couldn’t stand it anymore and decided that he is getting rid of one of them; he stabbed one of the gang with a knife in the chest, abdomen, and back, until he killed him. That followed a long while of them physically and verbally abusing him and making his life a living hell.
- Internet is taking over a lot of teens’ lives; they use it in almost every minute of their days, and that puts them at the risk of misusing it or being faced with some unfamiliar situations where they don’t know whether its fine to occur or not and thus not knowing how they should deal with them. One of the cases that took place in Thailand due to the difference in appearance is that of the autistic kid who wanted to get social acceptance among people over the Internet but on the contrary was always being teased by his schools friends, leading him to give it all up and lock himself in his room for a whole month without going to school.