A female teacher yells at three seventh graders about missing homework while repeatedly slapping them across the face.
That’s the video that drew wide-spread criticism online today toward Siriwan Butpetch, an English at the Omnoisophonchanooprathum School (say that three times fast) in Samut Sakhon’s Krathum Baen district, to which the teacher has responded saying she was sorry – but motivated by love.
Since the video – posted a parent – got attention online, school director Pongsakorn Poolsombat said the teacher and the parents of at least one of the students had met to settle the matter, according to multiple media reports. At the meeting, Siriwan is said to have apologized for taking the punishment too far and signed an agreement never to hit her students again.
Siriwan said that the punishment was because students in the clip did not turn in their homework and did not practice for a verbal English exam. She said that she meant well and wanted to push them toward a bright future – though she admitted that she may have went too far due to anger and love for the students.
Corporal punishment is legal and remains common in the Thai classroom, and there’s a much higher cultural tolerance toward it than elsewhere. A June YouGov poll found a plurality of respondents – 41% – supported abolishing it in all circumstances. Thirty-seven percent opposed and the rest were undecided.
Siriwan said she felt extremely guilty and sad about the incident.
One parent said after meeting her that she no longer held a grudge against the teacher so long as it didn’t happen again. She said she would not pursue legal action. It was unclear if the other students’ parents participated.
The parent that posted the clip online, meanwhile, was overseas today and expected to meet with Siriwan on Monday.
In the viral video, three male students can be seen standing in front of the class, in front of the whiteboard as Siriwan goes up to each and slapes them across the face. She slaps the last student on the far right several times. Meanwhile she can be heard repeated yelling phrases including “did you bring your homework?”, “did you pass?” and “did you practice?”
The video appears to be shot by someone else sitting at another desk in the classroom. Since the original video is no longer available, is unclear when the incident took place.
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