By THE NATION
The lack of platform policies and public statements suggests an uncaring attitude to the challenges encountered by young people, the agencies say, noting the lack of policies on threats from drugs and ignorance about sex.
“Apparently their policies do not focus on solving children/youth’s problems,” about 30 NGOs chorused in a joint statement.
Released by groups that have worked for children and youth causes, the statement has raised concerns that political officeholders will largely ignore youngsters post-election.
“Only five parties have mentioned policies related to children or youth. And these policies do not cover youngsters who are outside the official education sector at all,” Wanchai Poonchuay said late last week.
He said a huge number of Thai youths were out of school and they must not be ignored.
“Leaving them out in the cold will only widen inequalities in the country,” he said.
Suranart Paenprasert, a core member of the network, noted that campaigning parties have tended to focus on welfare, cash handouts or educational excellence.
“Not a single party has paid attention to problems surrounding children and youths. These problems occur in surroundings created by adults,” he complained.
Every year, more than 30,000 offenders under 18 are sent to juvenile correctional facilities because of crimes committed, more than half being drug-related offences.
“It should also be noted that nearly 10,000 students drop out of school each year,” Suranart added.
His network emphasised that the dropout rate was related to the rate of crime among minors.
Suranart said 2,510 youngsters are also killed in accidents each year, on top of those crippled or maimed.
“Records also show that 3.6 million children and youths are gamblers. Of these, over 400,000 are addicted to gambling,” he pointed out.
He said news reports suggest that most sexual-assault victims are ages five to 20.
“More than half of sexual offenders are family members or other people in the victims’ close circle,” he noted.
Thai children are growing up in an unsafe environment, the network said.
“And now we have cyber-bullying on the scene as well,” Suranart said.