The physical health of infants, children, and youth in Thailand has improved markedly. However, many behavioral or social problems have become more severe. Parents are spending less time with their children. Young people are becoming materialistic and spoiled. Education is focussing exclusively on skills, and neglecting wisdom. Problems faced by young people include drug and alcohol abuse, traffic accidents, early sexual relations, unwanted pregnancy, suicide, and barriers to education. Family, community, and religious institutions are becoming weaker, and some unscrupulous businesses are encouraging materialism and discouraging creativity. The problems are exacerbated by the media—particularly television. Existing interventions to assist young people are poorly coordinated.
- Educational Institutions
Schools will be encouraged to instill values in children, according to the level of development of the children. Kindergarten children will be taught to differentiate right from wrong, and to show compassion. Primary school children will learn enthusiasm for education, self-discipline, and savings. Adolescents will learn about responsible sexual relationship, and will be encouraged to keep abreast of changes in the world around them. The work will be conducted through partnerships with educational institutions. Young people, teachers, and community members will cooperate in design and implementation. Mechanisms for mutual support and exchange of ideas will be established.
- Informal Education
Networks will be established to link together state agencies, private organizations, policymakers, and advocates. Capacity building will be carried out among people involved in providing services to children and youth. Surveillance systems will be set up to monitor long-run progress.
- Child Protection
This plan will concentrate on six issues: (1) children in the justice system; (2) violence among children; (3) child labor; (4) stateless children; (5) accident prevention; and (6) children and the media. ThaiHealth will support research that leads to policy proposals or operational guidelines. It will support networks working for children and youth, including academic networks and conferences. It will support the development of information systems that, for instance, collate data from prisons, immigration services, and social welfare centers. Mechanisms will be established to advocate for children’s rights.
- The Media
Television is potentially a valuable source of information for children. However, it has not been living up to its potential. There are few quality programs on Thai television with significant educational content. On 4 November 2003, the government issued a cabinet resolution providing guidelines on quality programs for children, youth, and families. ThaiHealth will assist in the implementation of this resolution in several ways. It will support the creation and compilation of knowledge on how to produce quality television. It will encourage researchers and media people to pay more attention to quality programming. It will create mechanisms for children to express their opinions about television and radio programs. Policy proposals will be developed, which comply with existing laws and with international declarations signed by the Thai government. Support will be provided for the development of model television programs, aimed at children and their parents.
ThaiHealth will support the development of parents groups and networks, and the development of action plans that can be adopted by provincial governments. It will encourage the creation of knowledge that applied traditional Thai wisdom to modern conditions. It will support the establishment of social systems so that mothers can breastfeed their children for at least six months.