The great Filipino hero Jose Rizal once said, “the youth is the hope of the future.” He acknowledges the youth of today will become the doctors, teachers, soldiers, public servants and other professionals of tomorrow. While this is entirely true, let us remember that they will not only be the bright professionals in the workforce but could also become the future carjackers, kidnappers and criminals of our society.
This may sound cynical but it is true, especially with the youth-driven crimes that made headlines in the past month. The most recent of which is the murder and suicide involving two boys aged 13-years old and 16-years old. The motive was a strained relationship, which prompted the 13-year old suspect to shoot his 16-year old boyfriend inside a shopping mall in Pampanga before turning the gun to himself.
In Laguna, a 15-year old boy admitted that he raped and slashed the pulse of a woman after he robbed her of her personal belongings. The minor was able to escape to Tarlac using the victim’s car which he had stolen. In Cebu, a 16-year old was behind the heinous murder of his pregnant mother and 5-year old sister. The minor stabbed to death his mother and used a revolver to strike the head of his younger sister. The boy is thought to be a drug user.
Youths are also getting more involved in the drug trade as well. A report from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) disclosed that a total of 85 minors have been apprehended for violating the illegal drugs law.
Just last month, a 15-year old was found dead and appeared to have been raped in Quezon City. The victim’s body was found in an empty lot believed to be the lair of rugby-sniffing teenage boys. Plastic bags believed to be drug paraphernalia were found at the scene of the crime as well. The most prominent example of drug-related juvenile delinquents are the notorious “bukas-taxi gang” along EDSA highway. This gang of rugby-addicted boys ransack taxis who are stalled along congested traffic along the busy highway.
The level of morality of our youths are on a decline, and if these youths will become the future of our nation as Jose Rizal once said then the future looks bleak. Of course, it is unfair to generalize all youths, but the extreme deterioration of their moral fabric is definitely worth being concerned about.
The blame usually goes to media, particularly violent video games which manage to fall in the hands of teenagers despite an ‘R18’ tag. Television shows displaying inappropriate material and obscene language somehow manages to make their way in mainstream television, giving a bad influence on their teenage viewers. The same goes for obscene music as well. Then there are adult magazines that are made available to all customers as long as retailers make a profit.
Parents are also not exempted from the blame, they are everyone’s first teachers; through parents do children learn their values. If parents were able to fulfil their roles effectively, their children would not stray into a life of crime. The absence of a parental control on television sets is also a factor. In developed countries, most televisions have parental controls wherein parents can lock certain channels or programs in order to prevent their children from viewing them without their consent.
Retailers should also exercise protocol when engaging in trade of adult magazines and other media. The latter should be sold only to people who present an I.D. even if this means losing profit. The same goes for DVDs, retailers should follow the film rating set when selling. In the first world, retailers stand to lose their license and may even be penalized if found guilty of violating film ratings law. It is a strict policy for these countries, it is incredible how it is taken so lightly in the Philippines.
However, influences can only go as far as making a child curious, it is consequences that send a message that what he is doing is wrong. During one attack of the ‘bukas-taxi gang’, seven members were arrested by policemen. The seven all evaded imprisonment as the Juvenile Crime Act mandates all minors to be sent to counselling instead of jail. The same fate would be met by the 15-year old who raped and robbed a woman, or the 16-year old who killed his mom and sister. It doesn’t matter what crime you do or how many times you do it, as long as you are a minor you can walk free out of facing a tough consequence.
This makes teenagers complacent and confident about doing whatever they want. At the same time, it endangers the ordinary citizen as well since they could do anything they want and not be punished for doing so. It comes as no surprise then that the statistic of juvenile delinquents have increased, as the saying goes: “spare the belt and spoil the child.”
The moral fabric of our country is deteriorating, the youths who are suppose to lead the country into a prosperous tomorrow are the ones who are pulling it down instead. This is a sad and concerning reality. Although there is still hope amongst the youths, if legislation and parenthood do not get their acts straight and start to work effectively then that little sparkle of hope may be completely shunned.