BANGKOK – A teacher in Thailand was captured on film beating a 14-year-old student and bashing his head against a blackboard, sparking national outrage and pledges Tuesday from education officials to crack down on corporal punishment in classrooms.
The 50-second clip, filmed by a classmate using a mobile phone, was broadcast Monday on a nationally televised morning news program.
"Are you really going to stop!" the male teacher shouted at the student, gripping the boy's neck in a choke hold and whacking his head repeatedly, according to the footage obtained by The Associated Press.
The bespectacled boy wore the standard Thai school uniform of a white buttoned shirt and dark shorts. He was slightly taller than his teacher's waist.
"I won't do it anymore," the boy screamed after the teacher slammed his head at least four times against the blackboard as his classmates watched, occasionally giggling.
The beating occurred Sept. 9 at a private Thai-Chinese bilingual secondary school in Bangkok, the Thai capital.
The student had forgotten a textbook and the teacher reprimanded him, prompting the boy to sound off with profanities at the teacher who then flew into a rage, said the school's director Srithai Damrongrat.
The classmate who filmed it showed the clip to a neighbor who was so outraged he brought it to the headquarters of Thailand's Channel 3 television station.
"I could not accept it, so I brought the video to Channel 3 myself," said the neighbor, Manop Mankong, a 61-year-old food vendor. "I want to seek justice for the boy in the video and also want Thai society to learn a lesson."
Among those who watched the news show Monday morning was the boy's older sister and primary guardian, Maliwan Oipien, 35, who said the teen had not told his family about the beating.
"We were shocked. The teacher's behavior is too violent too accept," said Maliwan, who filed a police complaint against the teacher Monday afternoon and sent the boy for medical tests to check for head injuries.
Education Minister Jurin Laksanawisit announced Tuesday that the teacher had resigned and an investigation was under way to determine whether he should face criminal charges.
"We will not let a situation like this happen again," Jurin told Channel 3 on Tuesday.
Officials have called on schools to follow the ministry's regulations that say teachers cannot use their hands or other hard objects to discipline students, said ministry official Bandit Sriputtangkul, who is in charge of private schools nationwide.
The teacher, 29-year-old Weerapong Pongchanoh, expressed tempered remorse at being "too violent for the public to accept."
"I feel terrible for what I did to my student," said the teacher, contacted on his cell phone. "But I knew what I was doing. I did not use excessive force to hurt him. Otherwise he would have started bleeding."