The children of Thailand

Too many children have missed out on the benefits of Thailand’s development – particularly the children of ethnic minorities, migrants and the very poor. Development itself and the changes that come in its wake have also brought a host of new challenges for children and young people. These include the spread of HIV/AIDS, the break up of traditional family systems and a rising toll of child deaths from road traffic and other accidents.

The trafficking of children continues both within Thailand and from Thailand to industrialised countries. In addition, as Thailand has become wealthier in comparison with its neighbours, trafficking networks have expanded to draw in children from more isolated communities in nearby countries for exploitation here and abroad. There are also signs that more children in Thailand who are not in desperate poverty are “choosing” to become involved in commercial sexual exploitation in response to growing materialism. In some border areas, children are still at risk of being killed by landmines or being recruited as soldiers.

Access to eduction is still a concern. Hundreds of thousands primary-school aged children are either not in school or are not enrolled in school at the right age, and even more children are missing out on a secondary school education. For those children who are in school, there are serious concerns over the quality of the education they receive and whether it is relevant to their needs now and in later life. These concerns are particularly acute for the children of minority groups, who live in the remotest and most deprived areas and who may require bilingual education to benefit fully from schooling.

The age of criminal responsibility is just 10 years, which is grossly out of step with international norms. Partly as a result of this, but also due to a failure to consider the detention of minors only as a very last resort, far too many children are in detention facilities and prisons. For them, and for children who come into contact with the criminal justice system as victims or witnesses, there is an urgent need for more child-sensitvie court procedures that protect the identity of children and ensure that the victims of crime are not retraumatized by the process of punishing their abusers.

(Source: Unicef - Children in Thailand )