A spokesman for the Thai Department of Health says schools must do more to protect children from sexual crimes after the alleged rape of an 11 year old girl by her 12 year old classmate caused outrage in the Wichian Buri district of Phetchabun province on Tuesday, June 21.
Police launched an investigation into why the female director of the school asked the 11 year old schoolgirl to keep quiet over her rape ordeal. The female director was later discharged from her post.
Department of Health spokesperson, Dr Varoth Chotpitayasunondh, admitted the incident has caused concern about the safety of students in Thailand’s schools and how they can protect themselves from sexual violence.
Dr Varoth says the community, families, schools, and medical health teams must work together to deal with the problem. He insisted that it is important the victim’s family do not blame the victim and added the offender’s family should not protect the offender too much. The doctor says attacking the victim and defending the offender will not help solve the problem.
“School executives should focus more on sex education in school. Schools should have in place an effective system to manage cases. Moreover, issues surrounding sexual offences should not be as hidden anymore.
“We should begin by observing a child’s behaviour. Any child who commits a sexual crime usually starts with small-scale sexual harassment. Without warnings from teachers or parents, they will keep doing it until it develops into actual sexual crime.”
A teacher of the pre-primary student development centre in Suvanaprasit II school in Bung Kum district revealed her centre gives basic sex education classes to combat any potentially embarrassing situations.
Teacher Malai Chaiburin says the classes help children learn about their bodies and determine which parts should be hidden and not touched by others.
“Sexual harassment happens to children of all ages and can happen anywhere. So, children need to learn how to get assistance if needed. If their own house is not a safe place for them, the school must be able to help them.”
A primary school in Songkhla’s Sathing Phra district, Wat Bo Daeng school, has provided sex education classes since 2004.
Chavewan Sunsuwan, chief of the school’s child protection project, said the school has worked closely with the Centre for the Protection of Children’s Rights on how to deal with sexual harassment.
Chavewan made known that the school provides a basic sex education course from kindergarten level and up to intensive courses for Prathom 4 to 6, or children aged 10-12 years. The children take part in roleplay situations which helps them learn how to stay safe when faced with any potentially difficult situations.
Thongpairam Puytrakool, head of the child and family development unit of the Centre for the Protection of Children’s Rights, said the Ministry of Education has promoted a policy of school safety, including steps to prevent sexual violence. But one challenge is turning policies into actions and achieving full cooperation among schools, families and communities.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post