Opinion: Child abuse scandal highlights the necessary debate needed in Thai society

A famous Thai musician is under fire for images posted on social media which show him inappropriately touching his daughter.

The controversy has sparked an online debate about what is considered appropriate interactions between parent and child and over Thailand’s poor record in protecting minors from sexual abuse.

This event should serve as a watershed moment in Thai cultural history and spark debate over whether we should reconsider the level of intimacy between parents and children.

It is important for parents to talk about consent and healthy boundaries to their children.

Healthy parental involvement would help children understand proper contact with adults and inform them about consent.

In Thailand, in the past, children are taught to obey their elders leading to situations where they are trapped in terrible situations.

Thai cultural norms skew towards older people in society who automatically command respect whether or not they deserve it.

Debate on social media

Perhaps, it is time that adults in Thailand start listening to their children and asking what it is that they want. And it is also important that should they hear a no, to respect the children’s wishes.

That is probably what should happen. But instead, there are people jumping to the defense of the musician.

“This is completely normal. I touched my daughter like this when she was young, and my parents treated me the same way too. People should stop overreacting. They are family,” reads one post.

The sad reality of mindsets like this is that they are oblivious to one thing. Just because it has happened in the past does not mean it is not a damaging act that could have severe mental health repercussions for the child going forward.

Inappropriate touching is a crime. Groping and touching of private parts is child molestation.

Any touching for the needs of affection is sexual abuse.

What people need to understand is that abusers often start out with fondling your private parts without your permission.

Just because the act does not involve intercourse, does not mean it is acceptable or harmless.

Education at home and in school

Being the victim of abuse at an early age leads to problems later in life without proper counseling and guidance. That is why education and understanding must occur both at home and at school.

Schools need to play a more active role in comprehending issues related to consent, safety, and sexual expression.

This is to help children understand their bodies, develop a healthy respect, and become aware when they face sexual assault.

However, giving children improper education can only lead to poor consequences including the wrong understanding about what is appropriate and what is not when it comes to physical contact.

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