CHIANGRAI TIMES – Caning fails to improve behavior and should be abandoned as a form of discipline against children, a Chiang Mai University psychiatrist says.
Sombat Tapanya, of the Faculty of Medicine’s Psychiatry Department, said caning was a form of abuse which breached children’s right to be protected at home and school.
“It is time that all parties change their way of thinking,” he said. “The use of force to discipline children is no longer effective in modern society. What we need is ‘positive discipline’, which is a more successful method for changing aggressive behavior.”
Mr Sombat is behind a project which introduced “positive discipline” at all levels at Chiang Mai schools.
He has encouraged teachers and parents to adopt a policy of no violence against children.
Instead of caning children to discipline them, parents and teachers are encouraged to talk them into changing their behavior.
Children who behaved poorly were selected for case studies and suggestions were drawn up for teachers and parents on how they could improve their behavior without resorting to corporal punishment.
Some 500 students were involved in the study, conducted two years ago. By the end of the project, Mr Sombat said he found the new method was successful in changing the children’s behavior.
The Education Ministry banned caning in schools in 2000, but it offered no method to replace it, he said.
This had placed pressure on teachers as they had to find ways to control students with bad behavior.
“Positive discipline needs to be seriously addressed. Stronger training is needed so we can change attitudes about using force to punish students,” he said.
Suvichit Sataman, director of the Bureau of Child Promotion, Protection and Empowerment of Vulnerable Groups, said the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security was preparing a national plan against child abuse.
The plan seeks to protect children from aggressive law enforcement, provide moral education, and rehabilitation to victims.
Thailand’s Education Ministry allows the use of verbal warnings, probation and termination by teachers were it is deemed necessary, however prohibits the use of inhumane or violent punishment, although the use of corporal punishment is not unusual in rural Thai