A child rights advocacy network is pushing for an amendment of the Civil and Commercial Code to prohibit parents from using violent physical or verbal means to discipline their children.
Currently, under Section 1567 of the Civil and Commercial Code, a person exercising parental power has the right to punish the child in a reasonable manner for disciplinary purposes.
Suppasit Kumpraphan, a former member of the UN Child’s Rights Committee, said that Thai child rights advocacy groups want this provision to be amended, to stop parents punishing their children physically or verbally, because such violence has the tendency to make the children aggressive, unable to control their emotions or become stressful for fear that they will be punished again.
He cited studies from American paediatricians, which claim that children who were punished by their parents violently may suffer future health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
He noted that, in 2005, the Thai Ministry of Education issued an edict prohibiting teachers from caning students and they can face criminal charges for violating the edict, but caning is still practiced in numerous schools and no charges have been brought.
A child psychiatrist at the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, Dr. Prichawan Chansiri, said that a child who is subjected to violence will remember the experience even when they grow up, adding that parents often have the misconception that beating their child will stop them from repeating their bad behaviour because they are afraid.
The doctor said there has not been any scientific proof that punishing children can make them become good children, but there is proof that children stop their bad habits because they are afraid of the punishment.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong said that the ministry is in the process of conducting an online public hearing, to gauge the opinions of all stakeholders about amendment of Section 1567.
When the public hearings are complete, he said he expects an amendment bill to be ready within a month for submission to the cabinet for approval.