A school, or teacher, is reported to the police for hitting a child. They reply by claiming (and often producing) they have a written agreement with parents permitting them to beat the students for misdemeanours.
Every time they do this they are informed that such contracts are illegal and carry no weight.
Despite the laxity of the law in Thailand it is, like most countries, not possible to write a contract that contradicts law. Any contract that contradicts law is VOID. That is the same for any contract about any issue.
Even simple logic says this: you cannot CHOOSE which laws you obey and which you do not. That is anarchy! This particular law is there to protect ALL children. It is not the right of a parent to choose, it is there to protect every Thai child EQUALLY.
The law is simple – any teacher who hits a child is breaking the law and should/will be punished accordingly.
The issue of these “agreements” has been succesfully tested several times. Most notably at Yothinburana School where it was made clear by no less than the Minister herself. Also more recently at Pakpranang where the school tried to hide behind such an agreement only to be told by the investigating police officer that such agreements are unlawful. Nine teachers at that school are now awaiting trial as a result.
So why do they still exist in so many schools? Are school directors really so stupid or are they just ignorant of the law?
The truth is that neither is correct. School directors are VERY aware of the law and its implications. However they are also very aware that they cannot be held personally liable. Because the offence committed is one of “common assault” only the person who does the hitting can currently be prosecuted i.e. the teachers themselves.
So why do directors write these contracts? There can only be two reasons:-
1. They don’t care and consider themselves “above the law”.
2. They “use” the teachers i.e. instruct teachers to abuse children knowing full well they cannot be held personally liable. As in the case at St Marys school Korat where the director just passed the buck to the teacher despite the fact she knew full well that several teachers were regularly abusing students.
So what is the answer? It’s simple.
Make school directors personally liable for the actions of people they employ. If the directors, and not the individual teachers, could be fined and jailed this practice would very rapidly stop. Hit a director where it hurts, in their own pockets, and systematic child abuse by teachers in Thailand would be a thing of the past.