Fatigued by the pandemic, children in Thailand are suffering as they endure ongoing disruption to their education and social life, whilst their parents battle the economic fallout. Schools in ‘dark red zones’, including Bangkok, remain closed and low-income households have faced many challenges since the First Wave lockdown in March 2020. Financial hardship and mental stress is leading to strains on family relationships; this was made evident during the first wave of the pandemic when Childline Thailand received a message from a teenage girl: “Last night my father said that we should kill ourselves. We have received no support and the bank is calling everyday. We’ve had to sell all the possession in our house, we’re at the bottom of the sea- there’s nothing left.”
Thailand is currently experiencing a significant third wave which, combined with vaccine uncertainty, has contributed to an already bleak economic forecast. The countries tourist sector, which accounts for 20% of the economy experienced a dramatic downturn and as of June 16th 2021 only 2.4% of Thais have received two doses. Bank of Thailand Governor told a seminar last week “The Thai Economy may have to wait until the first quarter of 2023 to get back to pre-COVID-19 levels”
In 2019, Childline Thailand recorded an average of 614 calls and chat sessions per month. As Covid-19 restrictions took hold, requests for help from children reached a record high of 2235 contacts in April 2020 and has remained above 2000 online contacts until the end of the year.
Childline Thailand Director Ilya Smirnoff said: “We must prioritize mental health support during this pandemic to avoid a generation of disaffected youths. Children are highly perceptive of their parents moods and actions, and economic hardship can lead to stress, and a breakdown of family relationships. Childline Thailand’s role is vital at this time and we continue to be there for children: to listen, educate and campaign for their rights “