Avoid hitting children, Unicef tells parents

                                                                                   LAMPHAI  INTATHEP

Violence 'can stunt a child's development'
       Bijaya Rajbhandari, representative for Unicef Thailand, said millions of children across the world encounter violence every day.
       Globally, 120 million children have experienced sexual violence, 70 million girls have experienced physical abuse, and as many as 60% of children aged 2-14 have experienced violent punishment by family members.
       "It often occurs behind closed doors, undetected and unreported, and by someone known to the child such as parents, family members, caretakers or teachers. Violence against children persists because it is often accepted by adults and children themselves as part of life," Mr Rajbhandari said.
       The Unicef representative was speaking at a joint press conference with the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to launch the "End Violence Against Children Campaign" under the slogan, "Parenting without Violence". The campaign will include television advertisements and is aimed at persuading adults to change their approach to disciplining children.
He said that in Thailand, about 15,000-20,000 children are treated in hospitals each year for physical and sexual abuse. "Sadly, many children believe they deserve it,'' he said.
          Mr Rajbhandari said violence against children not only harms their wellbeing, but also undermines the productivity and prosperity of the country as a whole.
Violence affects children's physical and mental health, and those who have suffered from violence have increased risk of mental health disorders, depression, anxiety, self-harm and even suicide.
         "There is no other way to tackle this problem other than to change our mindset and our actions. More positive approaches to discipline should be adopted to raise kids," he said.
         Panpimol Wipulakorn, deputy director-general of Department of Mental Health, disclosed the results of a survey about domestic violence from a sample of 30,000 children and 20,000 parents conducted by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
         It found most of them accepted domestic violence, and the physical and verbal abuse regularly occur in the home. Dr.Panpimol said violent punishment can retard a child’s social skills and emotional development.
“Thai society is quite familiar with physical punishment. However,there are many alternative approaches to teach children, who at this age are still ready to learn and change,” he said.

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