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Protecting Children and Strengthening Familes

A concerned professional in the mental health field, Dr. Sombat Tapanya, a psychologist and an assistant professor in Chiang Mai University Faculty of Medicine has a strong interest in the area of violence prevention in children and youth.

Dr. Sombat received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of New Brunswick, Canada. He had worked as clinical psychologist at the Sombet Chaopraya Psychiatric Institute in Bangkok between 1972 and 1984, and has been assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University Thailand since 1985.

Dr. Sombat's research interest is in the area of violence prevention in children and youth. He is currently in his third year of conducting a research project on positive discipline and bullying prevention in Chiang Mai through a grant from the Thailand National Human Rights Commission. In addition, he is also on a research team with Duke University on the effects of punishment by parents on children adjustment, and another research project on youth resilience with Dalhousie University in Canada.

Recently Dr. Sombat addressed the all women's Rotary Thinthaingarm Chiang Mai Club on "Violence Prevention Begins at Home (and School)". He informed the club members on the current Thai family and Thai school situation and how it affects violence in society, and how informed adults can prevent violence.

Dr. Sombat has a vision to create a "Peace Culture for Youths Center" in the new housing project for lower income families located in the Nong Hoy area where over 500 families with young children will be living. Such a situation is suitable for the establishment of a family service center. Kids from such families are at risk of violence with the tendency of being instilled with violent emotional approach to problem solving along with exposure to domestic violence.

The peace culture center is where adults can provide training and support for families living in that area, including offering "Aikido" classes for kids. Aikido is another similar avenue of nonviolence in Dr. Sombat's personal vision. For many years, he has been actively promoting 'Aikido Training' among young, underprivileged children in Chiang Mai, to instill the value of nonviolence approach to life and problem-solving. He likes to talk to social and business groups about this and seeks their support for this sport. He thinks it is very important and non violence approach will have long-term benefit to society when parents can raise peaceful children - the likelihood of future family, community, and political violence will surely be reduced.

After the enlightening talk, Thinthaingarm Rotarians were enthusiastically considering the proposed project and they will discuss forming a volunteer group to work in Dr. Sombat's project. There is already an offer to loan a property to build such a center, and there are possibilities to acquire grants from several sources. Dr. Sombat is going to write a funding proposal for this project after he returns from participating in a violence prevention conference supported by the World Health Organization- WHO in Geneva in September 2009.

Volunteers eager to work on the "Peace Culture for Youths Center" project are invited to contact Dr. Sombat at sombat.tapanya@gmail.com

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