Viewpoint of a sixteen-year-old from Indonesia, 2002
Youths are the future of the nation. They are the pillars on which the nation rests. But our youths are being led astray. Student indiscipline has swept through many countries. Schools and universities are becoming places of mischief and violence.
There are several reasons for the violent behavior. The first and foremost cause of violence among youth is the aimless education which is being imparted to them. Too much stress is placed on learning from textbooks and passing examinations. Students resort to cramming in order to pass examinations. Their analytical and creative abilities are often ignored.
When they finish their studies they are unfit for any productive job, and then they join the ranks of educated unemployed youths. They express their frustrations in the form of violent behavior, such as vandalism of public property or brawling with other students.
It is a pity that they cannot understand that they are destroying their own property and the wealth of the nation to which they belong.
Second, politics plays havoc with their lives. On several occasions, local opposition parties have instigated students to indulge in destructive activities. The opposition parties support even illegitimate demands to meet their own political objectives.
In fact, the students play into the hands of such politicians who use them as a tool to settle a political score with the ruling party. The students are encouraged to participate in antisocial and criminal activities, which are detrimental to the nation's interests.
Third, there is no regular contact between students and teachers. Seldom do students have an opportunity to discuss their problems with their teachers and learn from their experiences. Teachers have also lost their prestige and control due to their indifference. Students therefore get out of control and neglect their studies.
They only need an excuse to clash with the authorities or students from "rival" schools to express their frustrations, and antisocial elements also join them during the clashes to take advantage of the situation for their own benefit.
We shiver in fear when we remember the brutal clashes between Trisakti University students and police a few years back. Similar clashes also occurred with Atma Jaya University students in Jakarta. In both incidents several precious young lives were lost.
Last, students have lost faith in God and do not fear the law. They have become slaves of fashion and trends, and use intoxicants like drugs and alcohol, which not only harm their morals but affect their health as well. Those involved in student brawls are often under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Lost, they loiter at shopping complexes and entertainment centers during study time.
Youth and violence has become a perpetual problem which needs to be addressed now. We cannot simply blame students alone: the whole of society is responsible for the prevailing pathetic situation. The responsibility lies with parents, teachers, politicians and the government, in providing timely help and guidance to youths.
In order to change the current scenario of youth affairs, we need to make stringent efforts to overhaul the education system, in line with the present aspirations and requirements of the youth.
Education has to be made more meaningful and interesting for them. The total thrust should be given to job-oriented, practical and technical training so that youths can be self-employed in case they cannot find suitable jobs after completing their studies.
In addition, youths should be involved in social causes and development activities in their spare time. This would give them a sense of responsibility and help them to become responsible citizens. Organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts help in developing strong character and teach youths the importance of discipline.
Several youth associations helped the needy in the recent floods in Jakarta. Youths collected funds for the needy and rescued people during the natural disaster. They need to be motivated for such activities.
Youths should be encouraged to participate in sports and cultural programs as such activities help them in understanding the importance of discipline and give them self-esteem. They should be made aware of human values and taught to respect their elders.
Furthermore, they should be provided with opportunities to develop hobbies depending upon their individual interests.
Youths should have free access to their teachers and parents, which would certainly reduce the existing communication gap. Frequent meetings with teachers would break the barrier and create mutual trust, which would ultimately give confidence to youths to discuss and share their problems with them and seek solutions. They would not be easily misled as they would be aware of whom to contact in times of need.
The vital energy of the youth needs to be conserved and utilized constructively, because, to reiterate, it's the youth that are the future of the nation.
Richa Chopra, Contributor, Jakarta. The writer, 16, is a student in XI-B at Gandhi Memorial International School, Jakarta.