Bullying among children in Thailand is on the rise with a world ranking second only to Japan, Mental Health Department director-general Boonruang Triruangworawat said Sunday.
Dr Boonruang said bullying in schools happens as early as kindergarten level as children imitate violence from online media.
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Studies following the conditions of youth and children in every province of Thailand found about 600,000 children are bullied at school, accounting for about 40%, he said.
The percentage has risen as a study in 2010 found 33% of students said they bullied others online and 43% said they were bullied by others.
“Bullying is the beginning of the cultivation of violent behaviour, both those who bully others and those who were bullied. It will also have an effect in the long run,” he said.
“The victims will be stressed or depressed and have problems with socialising. In severe cases, they will start hurting others or themselves, or even commit suicide,” he added.
“Those who bully others will have aggressive personalities and have less guilty feelings. They tend to use violence to solve problems and might become criminals. Our society needs to pay attention to this problem to promote the culture of safety both in schools and at home to reduce the loss of quality citizens caused by this [bullying] problem in the long run,” Dr Boonruang said.
Meanwhile, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Rajanagarindra Institute director Maturada Suwannapo said her institute is developing a bullying-prevention programme for children aged between six and 13.