By PIYANUT TUMNUKASETCHAI,
THE BAN METTA Juvenile Remand Home organised a family rehabilitation activity yesterday for 84 juveniles recently apprehended for street racing in Bangkok under the "Ratchapreuk Model" operation.
It is hoped the “positive reinforcing” rehabilitation camp will result in the youths refraining from indulging vice and getting involved in street racing again. The family day marked the completion of the camp.
Bangkok Juvenile Observation and Protection chief Srinara Krainarar explained that the 84 youths aged 15-18 were part of 108 youths rounded up last Sunday for street racing.
Dozens of them were students, so the court granted them bail to minimise the impact on their schooling.
Officials will speedily conclude reports so police can file them with public prosecutors in 30 days, Srinara said.
He said a study found various factors motivated youths to street race including family issues, teenage recklessness, and stress from de-facto relationships.
Advanced technology like smart-phones and chat applications made it easier for a large number of youths to gather for racing, he said, meaning arrests were not a to-the-root solution.
Space should be provided for youths to spend time together constructively, he said.
Srinara said getting youths to live and work on better discipline together at the camp helped boost positive interactions and allowed them to get to know one another, so the chance of fights occurring was reduced.
However, he said the families of some of the offenders were too angry and refused to join the family rehabilitation day and that might increase the risk to the youths re-offending.
During yesterday’s activity, a youth said he was scared when he got caught and after joining the camp, where he was disciplined and revealed what drove him to race, he felt homesick and remorse for disappointing his parents.
“I will not street race again. I will focus on my work and won’t go out after 10pm because the law prohibits that,” he said.
A nurse reported the results of health assessments on some of the attending youths. Only seven didn’t use drugs or smoke, while 11 were smokers, 10 drinkers, and three smoked and drank. Another nine drank, smoked and used at least one kind of illicit substance, with parents urged to enter those youths into drug rehabilitation programmes.
In related news, some 200 young street racers caused traffic congestion early yesterday morning after blocking parts of Bangkok’s Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road and Lat Phrao intersection up to the Din Daeng triangle.
The incident was caught on camera and circulated on Thai social media.
Many social media users said the daring activity was conducted in defiance of the Ratchapreuk Model and wondered why the pre-dawn race didn’t attract the attention of local police.
But police spokesman Lt-General Prawut Thawornsiri said officers chased the youths away and set up checkpoints.
However he said the youngsters popped up elsewhere so police pressed on until they dispersed.
Police would not punish local officers as they had tried their best, he said, adding that police would set up checkpoints regularly and add the potential of jail terms for busted street racer as an extra deterrent.
Another Ratchapreuk Model operation would be conducted soon.