Saturday, September 6, 2014

On Children in Conflict with Law

In a speech in the West of Mauritius on August 27, 2014the Khalifatullah Munir A. Azim (atba) said it is time to question why we refer to children as being beyond control. This is a stigma towards them. 

Our young people are branded as violent and out of control most of the time. The recent incident at the Rehabilitation Youth Centre (RYC) raises many questions on this type of attitude. Many parents, when their children commit a small offence, just lodge a case against them and the children are sent to the Rehabilitation Youth Centre (RYC). Reaching a certain age, many young people face behavioural problems. Just imagine the situation where we are putting all the children with problems in one place; this will surely deteriorate. That is what happens at the RYC. 

He believes that if the situation has worsened, this is because the two main institutions in our society, school and family, have failed. The family is the first institution where we should inculcate values but with growing tensions, the children do not blossom well if they experience a difficult childhood. Now, when the child reaches school, he faces a different kind of situation. If he is a brilliant student then he gets all the attention, if academically poor, he/she is set aside. These kinds of dysfunction provoke the child even more. At school more attention is given to academic education. There is no class on values.

He moreover said: "Our young are undergoing great difficulty. Today’s young are our future and we need to protect them. Personally I have been working with youngsters having behavioural problems since long, and I have never encountered any kind of problem in dealing with them. If we put them behind closed doors, they will surely become frustrated and violent. Many times, they tend to think that because their parents do not love them, they are sent to Rehabilitation Youth Centre. So this creates a kind of negativity in them.”

The Khalifatullah Munir A. Azim (atba) gave some solutions to these problems and he proposed the following:

1. We must detect those who are having behavioural problems and make them follow a rehabilitation programme. They need someone who will constantly look after them. Besides, our education system must be reviewed. Values should be inculcated in the children rather than only focus on academic performances. Families having difficulties must be given enough support so that children do not suffer. If possible, families with difficulties must be given necessary support and training to be able to cope with the situation. Finally, the laws also should be reviewed. For small crimes, the young cannot be sent to RYC or prisons.

2. Another problem, most of them do not go to school and they do not have any norms and values. They are lost and do not have any guidance. The reason leading those children to becoming uncontrollable and rebellious is that they live in a vulnerable environment filled with ills such as drugs and alcohol. These children thus face a lot of difficulty while growing up and to move on with their lives.

An example: The cases where both mother and father are drug addicts and children are left on their own. The priority for such parents is not their children, nor their well being and education. This is how those children do not get the needed attention, guidance and support at school. They are often excluded in the classroom by the teachers. Is this what we call empowerment at school? Often even at pre-vocational school, these kids come out without any training.

The Khalifatullah Munir A. Azim (atba) trusts that the problem should be tackled at its very source. We must investigate the reasons behind such conduct. We must also take into consideration the environment they are living in, whether they lack leisure or other necessities. We need to have a practical and realistic approach to the problem which is prevailing in our society.

There is no doubt that the Ministry of Social Security is doing a good job but the most important is to know whether the facilities offered are benefiting those who really need it, whether the children who are sent to centres, such as the RYC, are in fact getting the needful according to his/her own situation and problem. Are the personal needs of the children taken into due consideration? Each child has his or her problem and the solutions brought must be adapted to them. We thus question whether those kinds of centres are bringing more good than bad?

To approach those children, much work has to be done to establish a feeling of trust. We mainly focus and work on building a trusted relationship with those children. They have to trust us first, then we will guide the child on the right path whether he/she wants to pursue his education or even get training for any profession. 

To curb the tough and challenging situation of children being disobedient and out of control, the Khalifatullah (atba) moreover said: I trust that there should be a dialogue established between the children, the parents, the family and the school. All stakeholders must sit down, talk and share. This is how we will be able to work on a better system to tackle the situation.

Youngsters who come from reconstituted family are more prone to difficult behaviour, often, in families where the father is a drug addict or where there is much tension in the house, children tend to roam around and get involved in bad situations. Many children who suffer from difficult behaviour don’t go to school. They are unaware of the life skills programme. These children definitely need help. Insha-Allah. May Allah (swt) and no one else be our Helper and Protector! Ameen.

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