SAMUT SAKHON — No disciplinary action has been taken against a teacher who slapped students repeatedly for not doing their English homework, a school official said Thursday.
An administrator at Omnoisophonchanooprathum School said English teacher Siriwan Butpetch is currently on leave, and said more investigation is needed before coming up with any punishment. Siriwan, who is seen in a viral video slapping six Matthayom 1 students across the face, also told the media she did it out of love.
“We are in the process of setting up a committee for this,” the official said, refusing to give her name. “We will have to review all of the evidence and talk to witnesses first.”
The video appears to have been filmed by one of the pupils in the class. It was first posted to Facebook by someone who identified herself as a mother of a student, and quickly went viral on social media.
“Did you do it? Did you? Did you? Did you practice? Did you?” Siriwan says in the clip, slapping students’ faces between each phrase. “You’re over the line! Over the line! Over the line!”
After much condemnation on the internet, school director Pongsakorn Poolsombat gathered together Siriwan and some of the guardians, and had Siriwan apologize to them. Pongsakorn said the school would not allow further violent punishment of students
Speaking to reporters, Siriwan defended her actions, saying that her anger was borne from love and caring for students who did not do their English homework. Siriwan said she was also punishing them for playing on their phones during class.
“They only recorded the part where I punished them, not where I talked to them,” Siriwan said. “I am angry at these students, but I don’t hate them. I want them to succeed. I feel discouraged after being a teacher for 20 years.”
Orida Saenghan, a guardian of one of the assaulted students, said she would not pursue criminal charges against the teacher, though she urged the staff to rely only on non-violent punishments from now on.
“I talked to the teacher and I want her to use other methods,” Orida said. “I’m not ruling out any kind of disciplinary action, but please don’t use violence because this will put pressure on the students, and they might not want to come to school,”
Although violent punishment in schools is formally banned by several regulations, the practice remains a routine in many schools. Teachers who are caught resorting to violence or accused of other misconducts rarely faced any kind of legal repercussions other than being transferred to another school.
According to a 2019 survey of 999 Thai parents by YouGov, Thai parents are divided on physical punishment of their children. About 80 percent use it, and about a third of these discipline children by smacking them on the palms, with less popular methods being caning, pinching, and slapping.