Thai teens drink, fight, spend too much – poll

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Young Thais tend to drink too much, engage in fistfights and spend their money extravagantly, a survey has found.

Assumption University and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation polled 4,645 teenagers ranging in age from secondary to university students in Bangkok and 25 other provinces between April 7 and May 17 last year, Srisak Chamornman, head of the university’s Abac Poll, revealed yesterday.

Two-thirds of polled teens admitted to indulging in at least one of the nine “vices” listed in the survey: smoking, alcohol consumption, frequent partying, gambling, drug use, over-spending, premature sex, fistfights, and suicidal tendencies, Srisak said.

Ranked No 1 on the list was excessive drinking, with a third of respondents admitting to it. It was followed closely by physical fights and excessive spending, with almost a third of teenagers listing them as one of their bad habits.

Teens said they splurged out mostly on such unnecessary status symbols as fancy mobile phones, expensive cosmetics and accessories as well as on frequent visits to bars and bowling alleys.

Almost a third of respondents said they frequented night entertainment venues and one in four admitted to being in a sexual relationship.

Some 16 per cent of polled teens highlighted gambling as one of their vices, while 12 per cent pointed to smoking. Almost one in 10 said they entertained suicidal fantasies and 2 per cent admitted to using drugs.

Srisak said the predominance of bad habits among teenagers was leading to an erosion in their morals and studies, and that the adoption of one bad habit tended to generate others in most teens.

One in 10 teens conceded they had frequent outbursts of uncontrollable rage, sometimes resulting in violence, while almost half of the teens said they lost their temper occasionally. A third of respondents admitted to distrusting people in general.

In response to the poll’s findings, Senator Montri Sintawichai, vice chairman of the Senate Committee for Women, Youth and Senior Citizen’s Affairs, said he did not think the results of the survey revealed anything new.

“There have been some 20 similar surveys conducted recently about teens’ problems. These surveys come as often as if they were weather reports,” he said.

“We have long known that these problems exist – and not only among teens. A more important question [which the survey leaves unanswered] is how we can improve the situation.”

Published on January 24, 2005

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