Dishonesty in Thailand sprouts roots at an early age - with 81 per cent of youths admitting they cheat in exams and 63 per cent saying they signed a class attendance form for an absent classmate, a new study has found. And what's more, it is behaviour that most of respondents did not regard as seriously wrong.
About 25 per cent of students said they were comfortable with bribing a driving test officer to get a licence, according to the study by the Khon Thai Foundation and market research company GfK Thailand.
Under the Khon Thai Monitor 2014: Youth Today programme, 4,000 people aged 15-24 in 21 provinces were surveyed over five years up until February 2014 in a bid to better understand their lifestyle, attitudes, behaviour and needs.
The results will be officially announced on November 20 at Bangkok's Sukosol Hotel.
The study found that family, friends and teachers were key influences to the values of respondents, while 78 per cent of the 90 per cent of respondents who admitted to being under stress said they stressed about their studies.
Some 99 per cent of youths defined success as getting a good education and a well-paid job.
Social media has a big impact on their attitudes and behaviour, with them spending about four hours a day chatting with friends, getting news and playing games - which is just a little less than the time spent at school.
As a result, face-to-face interactions have been significantly reduced.
The respondents had a limited understanding of "active citizenship", as they mainly focused on their own surroundings rather than the larger community.
However, they want to contribute to Thailand's development but think they are too young to drive change and didn't know how to contribute.
Almost 15 per cent of respondents are involved in some active citizen activity, with five people selected from that group so their motivations could be studied.
The common characteristics are that they are socially-minded and positively contribute to society; they respect other people; have positive role models; follow rules and social norms; strive to improve society; think for themselves and act on those thoughts; follow current affairs; and actively participate in extracurricular activities.
The study provided key recommendations based on what the respondents had said in a bid to develop a culture of young people being active.
How to make youths active
They include the promotion of the family institution and good parenting, corporations promoting a work/life balance and the government supporting social welfare programmes that boost interaction among family members.
The media - especially online - should help raise awareness, provide knowledge on and promote active citizenship among the young.
Further studies on the younger generation should be conducted to find out what drives active young people, while identifying the obstacles the face to being active and taking programmes as good active citizens.
Positives like civic education and educational policies that promote a better understanding about active citizenship and motivate and inspire young people should also be carried out, the study said.
As kick-off activity, the foundation and GfK Thailand developed an engaging active citizen fun quiz for the young to do via Facebook, in order to educate and raise awareness about active citizenship.
The foundation's definition of active citizenship is as follows:
- Personal: Being kind and mindful of society;
- Society: Contributing to society including respecting social rules and helping develop a community;
- National: Engaging and participating in national/political affairs including voting and actively following national news and developments;
- Environmental: Conserving and developing the environment including recycling and planting trees;
- Values: Having good values, including possessing a democratic mindset, respecting human rights, displaying good ethics and appreciating cultural diversity.