Thailand sets up military boot camp for student gangs

Featured - September 5th, 2012

The rising level of violence among student gangs in Thailand has prompted the government to set up a military boot camp for delinquent teenagers.

In the first half of 2012, Bangkok police recorded more than 1,000 deadly brawls between students from vocational colleges. Gang fights usually occur during the start of a new school year, with guns, machetes, knives, and even improvised grenades used to ‘defend’ their heightened sense of school pride. For some students, they consider it as a “rite of passage” passed down from seniors and it gives them a sense of power and respect.

Wrongdoers were sent to military boot camps where they are disciplined by army trainers for 10 weeks and forced to live with their enemies. They are dressed in blue jumpsuits and their hair is cropped, they have to wake up at 5 a.m., eat at regular meal times and follow fitness drills. Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Wanchana Sawasdeen told AFP: “Ten percent of the students are not good when they come to the camp. When they leave, they still won’t be good – they don’t accept the system at all. But for 90% it will work, even if it just means they hesitate before fighting … at least the camp will have made them think.”