Media urged to 'bury' student wars

A brawl of vocational students on Phetkasem Road in Bangkok on Aug 25.

The media has been urged to reduce its coverage of violent student brawls as criminal gangs are believed to use these to scout new recruits to bolster their networks, a seminar heard on Friday.

The seminar on brawling among vocational students was jointly held by the Youth Network For Reducing Risk Factors, Ban Kanchanapisek Vocational Juvenile Training Centre for Boys, and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

It was held after two groups of vocational students fought on Aug 25 near Soi Phetkasem 36 in Phasi Charoen district. Witnesses said hand grenades were lobbed before the main attack was launched. One student lost his left arm while another was seriously injured.

Ticha Na Nakorn, director of the Ban Kanchanaphisek training centre, said the media, which has repeatedly covered gang fights among vocational students, often claim they intend to raise public awareness of the problem so a better solution can be found.

However, their well-meaning efforts have failed to produce the desired result, Ms Ticha said.

She urged the media to curb its coverage of student violence, which can often be found on the front page of newspapers or feature as the top story on TV news, she said.

She suggested burying such content inside the papers for a period of five years.

Ms Ticha said many students at the training centre have told her the articles are read by criminals and narcotics gangs, some of whom contact the students in the hope of bringing them into their criminal fold.

She blamed the country's educational system for failing to identify and tap the abilities and interests of all students.

She said the educational system must provide them with enough space to express themselves constructively and make them feel proud of their achievements.

Pannawit Kongsilpa, president of the alumni association of Rajamangala University of Technology's Tawan-ok Uthenthawai Campus, said vocational students need to find an outlet for their talents.

Activities should be organised so they can learn to work for others and contribute to society, which in turn will help boost their sense of self-esteem, Mr Pannawit said.

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