19 August 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday August 15, 2007

Something is very wrong with us


The 2,718 male children aged 14-20 being remanded in prisons to abuse of toddlers, some resulting in death, by young parents, are indeed worrying to say the least. Yet little seems to be done to reduce or to prevent this from happening altogether.

YOUNG people are in the news again, with the recent furore about them being remanded in prison. Although it may be too late for many of them, hopefully the concern expressed by NGOs, the public and the Government will mean that no more children and young ones will be subject to prison for the smallest of offences.

However, we have to wonder why there are already 2,718 male children aged 14-20 in prisons before someone finally made a fuss. Surely it was already an injustice for the very first child to have been held in prison. Why had nobody raised the issue earlier? Surely even prison wardens must have known this was not right.

Some of these children were arrested for not having their identity cards on them. As much as this is an offence under the law, surely it should not lead to prison especially for children. Do we follow the law in automatic fashion leaving no room for humanitarian considerations?

Having now realised that there are all these children in prisons, in what way will we compensate for their loss of childhood? Prison is hardly the most conducive place for children.

Who knows what sorts of things are now wired into the minds of these unfortunate young people setting the course for their futures.

Teenage years are a particularly sensitive time and not handling them correctly can lead to later misbehaviour. How do we prevent that from happening? Or do we simply blame them later without considering our own complicity?

It seems to be a particularly Malaysian thing to not spend much effort on prevention when often it is much easier to do than to sweep up the after-effects of lack of forethought later.

Our refusal to teach young people proper sex education means that unwed pregnancies are not prevented. Even if young people get married because there is a baby on the way, what do we do to prepare them for the many responsibilities of marriage including the stresses and strains that one can expect?

If there is one thing that seems to be common among the recent cases of child abuse is how young the parents are, barely out of childhood themselves. In the recent death of a 17-month-old toddler, the mother was 18 and the father was 22. The child was the elder of their two children.

In Penang, a 22-year-old man pleaded guilty to physically and emotionally abusing his girlfriend’s two-year-old daughter. Another 25-year-old man in Kota Kinabalu was accused of abusing his lover’s four-year-old son.

Perhaps when a baby ceases to be cute and becomes ever-more demanding, young parents become less patient. Perhaps they are no longer with their child’s other biological parent and feel less secure with their new boyfriend or girlfriend.

Nothing could be less attractive than a wailing child. Perhaps one day it just got too much.

We should realise that sometimes prevention has to start several steps before the very dangers we want to prevent. If we had good sex education in schools which talks about risks and responsibilities, we might avoid teenage pregnancies altogether.

If we counselled couples that did get pregnant and had to get married, we might be able to teach them better ways of handling conflict. As it is, many premarital courses are just another step on the way towards getting that marriage certificate.

As the Mufti of Perlis has pointed out, for all the premarital courses we’ve had, the divorce rates (among Muslims) hasn’t reduced. Perhaps if we taught young people parenting and relationship skills, and told them where they can get help, their young children may not become vulnerable to abuse.

Of course, it’s not just young parents who are the ones who abuse children but it does seem to be a common thread in recent cases that have not been remarked on.

Ultimately what will happen to these cases? The abusers will probably wind up in jail, which leaves the question of what will happen to their children.

Are they likely to abuse children who are not theirs, that they should be put away from society? Or do we serve society better if we rehabilitate these parents, perhaps help to solve the problems that may have put unbearable pressures on them. That may include having to deal with adult abuse as well.

In order to really deal with the many social issues that we have, we need to approach things from a holistic perspective, with the understanding that they rarely occur in isolation. Factors in the environment create the dangerous scenario and then something triggers it off. We need to ascertain what those are.

Otherwise we’ll continue to shake our heads at more child tragedies