When a 17-year-old admitted to throwing her eight-month-old son’s body into a canal and reporting him missing, she exposed major flaws in Thailand’s three major social systems.
“This case demonstrates that the country’s public health, education, and social welfare systems fail to protect and empower vulnerable children,” Thicha Na Nakorn, director of the Ban Kanchanapisek Vocational Juvenile Training Center, said.
She spoke out at a time when the public is focused on the teenage mother’s actions and accusing her of lying. “Nim” is the nickname given to the youngster.
“I’m not trying to protect the wrongdoer and am not ignoring the pain of the [infant] victim. But I want to draw much-needed attention to the underlying causes of these issues. If we do not address them now, we will see more of these cases,” Thicha warned.
The center’s director has a long history of advocating for children’s rights and providing opportunities to troubled youth.
Nim had a miserable childhood because he was raised in poverty in an unhappy family with bickering parents. Her time at school provided no respite from her domestic problems. She never formed trustworthy friendships and was frequently targeted by bullies.
So, when an older boy expressed interest in her, she eagerly embraced him and did everything she could to keep them together. She even agreed when he asked her to perform sexual services for money on others.
She eventually dropped out of school after becoming pregnant. She only found out who its father was after police conducted a DNA test. According to the test results, Nim was not impregnated by her 19-year-old boyfriend “Pud,” but by her father’s friend “Jae,” who had paid for sex with her.
Nim is now facing charges of recklessly causing her son’s death, concealing his body, and attempting to cover up her crime by failing to report it to authorities. She will be tried in juvenile court because she was a minor at the time of the incident.
Meanwhile, the child’s biological father has been charged with sexually abusing a minor and removing her from her guardian. According to police, he confessed to the crime.
According to ThaiPBS, Nim’s boyfriend, now 19, is being held on charges of procuring a minor for prostitution.
“I have never had a dream,” Nim reflected on her past. I’ve never thought about what I’d be when I grew up since I was a child. All I wanted was a job that would pay me enough to eat. I never imagined myself as a doctor or a nurse. I’d never gone that far. Just take a look at my house… I don’t think I’ll ever get there.”
Thicha believes that if officials had intervened at the right time in Nim’s life, things would not have progressed this far.
“When she dropped out of school, Education Ministry officials should have been concerned. “It should have been them who reached out to Nim, offering advice on how to care for herself during pregnancy and the child after delivery,” she said.
Officials from the Public Health Ministry should have followed up on Nim’s prenatal care, she claims. Given Nim and her boyfriend’s ages, it should have been obvious that the couple would struggle to raise a child.
She was also critical of the public health system.
“We’ve heard that the Public Health Ministry is planning to assist teen mothers. But we never heard of Nim receiving the desperately needed government assistance,” Thicha said.
She also expressed disappointment that social workers did not reach out to Nim, highlighting flaws in the Social Development and Human Security Ministry’s operating system.
“Some people are unaware of their rights and, as a result, do not seek assistance. As a result, the government should actively reach out to these people. You can’t simply demand that society act. “To have a meaningful impact and empower people, you must lead and engage,” Thicha said.
Ekkalak Lumchomkhae, director of the Mirror Foundation’s missing persons centre, is disappointed that officials from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security did not rush to assist Nim after her complaint about her missing son became public.
“Nim is also a child in need of assistance,” he explained. “I’m not attempting to help her by eliciting public sympathy, but I would like to point out that becoming enraged with her will accomplish nothing. Instead of simply criticizing and abusing her, consider what she went through and what drove her to do what she did.”
Nim reportedly told police that her son had a “seizure” while she was bathing him. She said she decided to dispose of his body in a canal and file a missing persons report because she was afraid of getting into trouble.
However, further investigation revealed several shocking revelations, not only about her crime but also about her life.
“Her case simply reflects the damage that a broken family causes, as well as the difficulties that teenage lovers face,” Ekkalak explained.
Nim suffered at the hands of the media and the public if the appropriate authorities did not intervene quickly.
“She’s not just a suspect; she’s also a victim,” Ekkalak said.
According to Thicha, most media outlets only report on what is going on in society, when the media should also serve as a guide for society.
“We believe that the media should promote discussions about what causes children like Nim. If we don’t appreciate and accept such creations, we must address the underlying issue,” she said. Thicha went on to say that showing sympathy and understanding for Nim does not mean justifying her actions.
“All wrongdoers must bear the consequences of their actions. They can’t get away with it. Our empathy, on the other hand, should pave the way for them to heal and choose the right path later,” Thicha said.
Thailand has over 22.8 million families, but not all of them have safe places for their children to grow, according to Thicha. As a result, she added, authorities and relevant sectors must collaborate to protect and empower children so that they can grow into responsible adults.
Meanwhile, police believe the missing 8-month-old baby boy was eaten by fish or other animals in the canal, and they will decide whether to call the search off because the boy was last seen in February.
The national deputy police chief, Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, stated today that Bang Luang police have been instructed to question the mother of the missing baby, 17-year-old Nim, further on certain issues that remain unclear before closing the case.
He also stated that police have consulted with provincial public prosecutors about how to handle the case and Nim’s indictment, and that officers investigating the case believe that the teenage mother lied to them about the baby’s fate, while her partner told the truth.
Surachate explained that the police will not file a human trafficking charge against Nim’s partner for allegedly luring her into having sex with his friend in order to raise money to feed the money, because the amount of money was small and was intended to support the family.