Every year, on the second Saturday in January, Thailand holds their National Children’s Day. It’s an opportunity for the youth of the country to be pampered and to enjoy themselves at various events throughout the country. Museums, zoos and some tourist attractions allow them to enter for free. In Bangkok, the BTS skytrain and the MRT underground allow them to ride for free. In Samut Prakan, quite a few activities were held at the Provincial Hall (see pictures). There were various games for the children to play but there was also plenty of free things like toys and food handed out to them. There is no doubt that all Thai children look forward to Children’s Day.
As well as the government and private sector, the Thai Armed Forces also opened their barracks for the day for the children to enter. I took these pictures at the Royal Thai Naval Academy in Samut Prakan this morning. They had a lot of activities arranged for the children. Everything from star-gazing to marine life. However, what many of the Thai boys were interested in were the guns. There seems to be a fascination with guns in Thailand that I am starting to find alarming. Did you know that 79% of all homicides in Thailand are committed with a gun? Not only that, but in a UN survey on crime trends, Thailand was rated as having the highest number of homicides with firearms.
In Thailand, all policemen carry a firearm. Even the traffic cops. They also apparently carry their guns while off duty. One thing is for sure, don’t get into an argument with a drunk at a restaurant. You just don’t know whether he is carrying a gun. There is even a recorded case of a foreign tourist being shot by an off-duty policeman. Technical students are also carrying guns now. Even though these are mainly pen guns, they still kill as we found out recently when a schoolgirl got killed by a stray bullet. Even when they are not angry, people seem to like to play with their guns. During the recent new year holiday, a number of people fired their guns into the air. But, what goes up also comes down. At least one young girl was killed while sleeping in her bed and another badly injured.
This morning I posted a picture on my Facebook (see here) of two young Thai kids being shown by soldiers how to hold sniper rifles. I commented that I didn’t think that it was a good idea to arrange such an activity on Children’s Day. Although a few said there was no harm in letting the children have some fun by handling the guns, most people agreed that guns are not toys and we shouldn’t be confusing kids by saying it is alright to play with guns. One person on my Facebook page said that she disagrees with the saying “guns don’t kill, people do”. I agree with her. There is only one reason that guns were invented and that is to kill. Just look at the statistics. An average of 41.4 people are killed with guns in Thailand per 100,000 of the population.
What do you think about all of this? Is it just harmless fun or are we creating a bigger problem for ourselves in the future?