Ten new child protection laws in the pipeline

Marking Children’s Day last week, parliamentarians announced they are preparing 10 new laws as part of a comprehensive effort to raise the level of child protection in the Kingdom with an emphasis on dealing with drug abuse and teenage pregnancy in the face changing circumstances in society and new technologies.

Child protection is an area of close cooperation between Thailand and the United States. Thai government agencies have collaborated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to track and apprehend predators and known child sex offenders. The Thai government has also established several Child Advocacy Centers based on a U.S. model in partnership with international children’s rights and anti-trafficking groups.

“These laws will provide legal protection for all children and relieve the problems that the next generation is facing, especially the problems of drug use and teenage pregnancy,” said Wallop Tang-kananurak, a veteran children’s rights advocate who serves in the legislature.

Wallop described the planned laws as the legislature’s “present to Thai children” on Children’s Day, which was celebrated in Thailand on January 13. Wallop heads the legislature’s special committee on youth, women, the elderly, and physical challenged and disadvantaged persons.

Among the planned laws are the National Child and Youth Development Promotion Act, the Control of Begging Act, and the Child Born by Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Medical Science Protection Act.

Over the past two decades, Thailand has passed numerous laws aimed at protecting women and children. These include the Child Protection Act of 2003, the Child Adoption Act and the Juvenile Family Court and Juvenile and Family Procedure Acts in 2010. In addition, there are provisions in many other laws that relate to the rights and protection of children including laws on anti-trafficking in persons, labor protection, compulsory education, non-formal education, domestic violence and many others.

Thailand has signed and acceded to several international conventions designed to protect children. These include the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
the First and Second Optional Protocol’s concerning the involvement of children in armed conflict and the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography respectively. It has also ratified the International Labor Organization’s Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention.

Meanwhile, the Office of Basic Education Commission reported last week that there has been a significant decrease in the number of school dropouts. The Commission said that the number of dropouts last year decreased to only 1,945 students from 2,411 in 2016.

However, problems still persist in that a significant number of students stop school after Grade 9, instead of completing the mandatory education through Grade12.

Students drop out or fail to complete all 12 grades for a variety of reasons including the burden of raising a baby, poverty, bullying and enforced dismissal by the school.