Activate the youth-A A +A
I have issues
Thursday, October 10, 2013
THE youth are an unbridled source of energy, they are restless, they are active, and they seek continuous affirmation, acceptance, and relevance. When directed productively, they can do great things, contribute actively and passionately to building communities, values forming and even trend-setting good things like volunteer work.
However when left unchecked and undirected, their often impressionable disposition and thirst for attention can be a potent source of meaningless violence, vice and vanity. The recruitment motivation of youth gang membership is fraternity, or belongingness, a motivation most often abused in luring teenagers in a life of seemingly senseless violence, baseless camaraderie and even in the indulgence of their own vanity, and their corrupted notions of what it means to be in a group.
The rise of teenage-based gangs in the city should not come as a surprise; quite often people of this age have a natural want for affiliation, but why not join more friendly versions of youth groups? Or say do volunteer work? It’s easy for many to claim this and wash their hands as if it’s the all the kids fault, but we tend to forget most of those extremely vulnerable to being lured into these groups are misfits themselves, they are from their own views of the world, outcasts, teenagers who don’t have many friends in their communities, and who often are not invited in to do more productive involvements. The groups that thrive offer a safe haven for teenagers, and an opportunity to be relevant, even in their own twisted ways.
The seemingly unending problem of vandalism in most urban cities is an example of this never ending tug of war of how to control the energy of the youth, many countries have done a multiplicity of methods in being able to curb this problem, in our city the most famous response has been to go hard at this demeanor, often hunting them down, and considering them as pseudo-criminals.
While it certainly would drive a point against these acts, it comes at the cost of further alienating the youth, it drives home their narratives that it’s them against the system, and it certainly reinforces the vindication of the ideologies espoused by their misguided leadership, “your parents don’t care, the city doesn’t care, we are the only ones who care.” What you end up with are groups who commit to acts with passion, but are in truth only brainwashed by their own lack of understanding.
So what should we all do? There is no single solution, but I think our city government can be a first mover, I know that Mayor Moreno has had plans in activating a youth based council, a group from different sectors comprising the youth in coming up with solutions and programs to further involve teenagers into nation-building efforts of the city. This could be a start, but this has to tread lightly, in a matter that is more inclusive, and welcoming, and should not be riddled with politicking as well.
Quite often the problem with government-youth based initiatives is that they fall prey to the political motivations of a few, and like the troubled Sangguniang Kabataan, could also be breeding grounds for corruption and other ills.
But if directed carefully, and should involve the youth more, we could see more promising results, far beyond basketball tournaments, far beyond beauty pageants, I think we need to tap into the youth for our energies are seemingly limitless, imagine what we can do with them for good.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 10, 2013.