A GROUP of students bullied an autistic and much younger child at their school in Phayao province, a video clip has revealed.
The clip, which had caused uproar on social media and been shared more than 70,000 times before being deleted, has brought the problem of bullying at school into the spotlight.
A survey by the Mental Health Department has shown that about 600,000 Thai children suffer violence at school, making Thailand No 2 in the world for the problem, second only to Japan.
According to the report “An Everyday Lesson: #ENDviolence in Schools” released last month by Unicef, bullying and fights disrupt the education of 150 million 13 to 15-year-olds worldwide, while half of all students in that age group experience peer violence in and around school.
Justice Ministry deputy permanent secretary Tawatchai Thaikyo yesterday called for the children who bullied the girl in the clip to be forced to undergo “behavioural adjustment”.
“The school should contact any juvenile observation and projection centre for help,” he said.
Tawatchai believed the case should not end with just an apology from the children responsible or a mild sentence of probation.
The clip showed older boys and girls in school uniforms bullying and manhandling the younger child.
The bullies were later identified as being Mathayom 2 students, while the victim was a primary school student and autistic.
She was subjected to hair-pulling, was pushed around and at one point, someone also put a foot on her face.
The incident occurred on October 5 at Ban Dong School in Dok Kham Tai district.
The school’s director Nanthapol Fusrikul was summoned on Wednesday to a meeting with Deputy Phayao Goveror Wutthichai Saowakomut about the incident.
A Mathayom 2 student, who allegedly videotaped the assault and whose name has been withheld due to his age, said on Facebook that he was sorry for the incident and that his group had already been placed on probation by the school.
The clip was uploaded to Facebook by the victim’s uncle, who is trying to demand justice for his niece.
It received more than 400,000 views within 24 hours and sparked widespread condemnation of the children responsible. The clip has now been deleted.
According to Nanthapol, eight Mathayom 2 students have admitted that they “bullied and rough-handled” the girl but said they had not detained her or intended to seriously hurt her.
Nanthapol added that the school talked to the parents of the children involved, who agreed to pay a total of Bt5,000 to the victim’s parents to put an end to the incident.
He said the school also issued warnings to the children involved and placed them on probation as per Education Ministry rules. If they re-offended, they would get their behaviour score cut and face a suspension from class, he added.
However, the victim’s mother said she was angry over the incident and vowed to press for the bullies to be punished. She said that the school had offered to get each of the eight involved children to pay Bt500 compensation to the family to end the incident.
She said she was asked to sign a document to not pursue the case but she turned down the offer.
The Mathayom 2 students involved in the assault and the victim were given physical and psychological tests at a hospital yesterday morning, said Phayao Primary Education Service Office 1 director Pathom Cheuamor.