Youth problem – time to act – By Dr. Kala Singh MBBS
Many of our young people have died in drug related gang violence. The police department and the Indo-Canadian community are worried about a rising trend of gangland style of violence amongst their youth. There is a need to prevent our youth from getting involved into such a type of life style and bring back those who have adopted this type of behavior. Where it gives bad image to the community, those involved are losing their lives at the prime of their lifetime and robbing sons, brothers and husbands from their families. It is also causing mental health problems to the families and friends of those involved in these activities. Few of the youngsters to die were not known to police. This indicates that gangsters have been able to recruit new youngsters. Where gangsterism has been the problem of our boys, our girls are sneaking out at night to meet their boy friends. This shows that our youth, both boys and girls are directionless. They are suffering and there is no one to guide them, not even their parents. Many concerned people including myself have been writing articles in our ethnic newspapers. Our ethnic radio has also brought talk shows on this subject, but the problem has been increasing rather than decreasing.
I would like to highlight some of the causes of the problems our youth are facing. First and fore most, our parents discriminate between boys and girls. They do not control their sons, but want to keep strict control over their daughters. This is very wrong. I know from my experience of working with our community where boys are going out with ‘gories’and even marry them. I very much doubt if parents will let this happen with their daughters. Then there is issue of Indian and Western culture, which our children have to endure. Many including myself have written again and again that our children are living two lives, one at home of a good Indian child and another at school or outside the home. Let us talk about these two cultures. Both cultures have good points and bad points. Western culture gives an equal opportunity to both sexes, which is not part of Indian culture, but is part of Sikh values. We should acknowledge and adopt it. The dating system of Western culture is alien to us. Young children look for their love and the right partner by dating. In the process, sometimes one has to date many different partners before the right one is found. Still there is no guarantee that one will find the right partner as is evident from the number of divorces in Western culture. In this process of dating there is every chance of having pre marital sex with its consequences of getting pregnant and catching HIV AIDS virus as well. Where an unmarried pregnant girl is shunned and is a shame for the parents in Indian culture, there is no such problem in the Western culture. As far as HIV AIDS is concerned, today the whole world is talking and World Health Organization is recommending about having one partner and no pre marital sex to prevent HIV AIDS. There are flaws in the arranged marriage system as well. Many a times, marriages are arranged between two totally different intellectual levels. Marriages are also arranged to bring more relatives to Canada. These marriages are doomed to fail. Parents do not understand the need of our young generation that children need to have full say in choosing their life partner. Times have changed, so we all have to change with that. We have to find a compromise in which our children do not have to sneak out and fall in problems and in which our traditional values are not lost as well. This cannot be done by community leaders, but by parents. Social activists, like me can only guide, but action has to be taken by parents themselves.
I have been saying time and again that parents need to spend some quality time with their children. They must sit down with their children and discuss their problems. They have to take children into confidence that they are not only their parents but their friends as well and they can trust them. The whole family must discuss these topics with an open mind and come to conclusions. The problem is that after immigration, parents are busy settling in the new country. Both parents work on two and sometimes three jobs and pay little attention to their children, leaving them without parental advice. Those who are well settled are busy making more and more money, paying no attention to the emotional needs of their children. The children then turn to peers for advice, which can sometimes be misleading and inaccurate. By the time parents become aware of the problem it is already too late.
Sometimes those parents who take interest in their children do not have proper parenting skills of how to bring up children and solve their problems while living in Western culture. Parents need to be taught that money is not everything in life. New immigrants need money quickly to settle in the new country, but they must realize that spending time with the children, who are also passing through a very critical stage of their life, is of utmost importance. Both, new immigrants and well-settled parents must realize that spending time with their children and giving them right advice at the right time is also an investment. Parents must teach children about the values of Indian culture when they are still very young. Parents should be role models for their children. I know from experience that many adult children do not like to sit down with their parents.
Our children are really suffering and along with them their parents and the whole community. I neither blame children nor parents for this problem. My question is, are we going to get any thing from finger pointing? When we know what our weaknesses are, why can’t we do something about them. Newspaper articles and radio talk shows have not shown desired effect. Some people who are very concerned and want to do something practical for the community have approached me with the suggestion that something more needs to be done. This is the need of the day. There is no more time to talk. We have to act and act now. We want fully committed people who can and want to help the community with their time and do selfless service. I invite all such people to contact me. With our effort even if a single life is saved it is worth.
Dr. Kala Singh did MBBS degree from Delhi University, India. He worked as Psychiatric Doctor in Africa for 21 years before immigrating to Canada. He gives Sikh religious and spiritual counseling and psychotherapy to clients with stress and mental health problems. For more information, he can be contacted at 604 327 5253