Can­di­dates make youth vi­o­lence is­sue a pri­or­ity

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

KUWAIT: Over the past decade, youth an­ti­so­cial and vi­o­lent be­hav­ior has be­come a great na­tional con­cern and a top po­lit­i­cal pol­icy is­sue that has been sen­sa­tion­al­ized by me­dia cov­er­age in Kuwait. Rare, yet dev­as­tat­ingly vi­o­lent, these crimes are usu­ally com­mit­ted by youth at schools and pub­lic places. Youth in­volve­ment in such dys­func­tional and vi­o­lent be­hav­iors put them at risk of be­ing in­car­cer­ated, pros­e­cuted, los­ing their ed­u­ca­tion, ca­reer fu­ture, and maybe their lives.

In a so-called youth so­ci­ety like in Kuwait, where youth, ages 10-24, con­sti­tute about one-third of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion, the need for a new strat­egy to in­crease the like­li­hood of hav­ing the youth pop­u­la­tion as an in­te­gral part of the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment plan, in­stead of a li­a­bil­ity, be­comes cru­cial. The pre­vail­ing re­sponse to youth vi­o­lence and crime by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, pol­icy mak­ers, and the ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tem world­wide, and in Kuwait as well, has been re­ac­tive and puni­tive.

In­car­cer­a­tion

Al­though in­ter­ven­tion ef­forts tra­di­tion­ally have fo­cused on treat­ment af­ter the fact (eg, in­car­cer­a­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion), decades of re­search sug­gest that pre­ven­tion is the most ef­fec­tive strat­egy avail­able for re­duc­ing youth an­ti­so­cial and vi­o­lent be­hav­ior. To elab­o­rate fur­ther on this sub­ject, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) in­ter­viewed two ex­perts in the fields of so­ci­ol­ogy and me­dia who called for in­dulging the is­sue of youth vi­o­lence in the elec­toral pro­grams of can­di­dates run­ning for the up­com­ing par­lia­men­tary elec­tions slated for Novem­ber 26.

Dr Saud Al-Ghanim, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­ogy at Kuwait Univer­sity (KU) said that youth con­sti­tute the largest por­tion of the Kuwaiti so­ci­ety and keep­ing eyes shut on this sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the so­ci­ety, adding that can­di­dates’ neg­li­gence to ad­dress is­sues per­ti­nent to youth and their crit­i­cism would make youth shun es­chew vot­ing for such can­di­dates. Al-Ghanim added that the is­sue of youth vi­o­lence to many can­di­dates does not con­sti­tute a phe­nom­e­non in Kuwait and not that of a big is­sue to be ad­dressed, thus, be­com­ing less im­por­tant to be dis­cussed in their elec­toral pro­grams rather than ad­dress­ing “ma­jor is­sues” such as hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and health is­sues.

Strange phe­nom­e­non

He pointed out that a large num­ber of can­di­dates be­lieve that solv­ing the is­sue of youth vi­o­lence takes time and pre­fer to ad­dress other is­sues that may be of con­cern to a larger seg­ment of the so­ci­ety such as ed­u­ca­tion, health and hous­ing. He said that the neg­li­gence by many can­di­dates to ad­dress the youth vi­o­lence lies in the lack­ing of ed­u­ca­tional back­ground, say­ing that a can­di­date with an ed­u­ca­tional back­ground would for sure put this is­sue as a pri­or­ity. He said that a num­ber of can­di­dates in the 2nd con­stituency have ad­dressed the is­sues per­ti­nent to youth and not only vi­o­lence as they are too close to their wor­ries and con­cern.

He added that youth vi­o­lence is a strange phe­nom­e­non to the Kuwaiti so­ci­ety and is to­tally re­jected, adding that the youth look at the MPs as their role model and if the lat­ter were not up to the re­spon­si­bil­ity, then, the young gen­er­a­tion would fol­low suit. He urged the State Min­istry for Youth to come up with a so­ci­etal so­lu­tion and a state project to ex­ploit en­er­gies of the youth, say­ing that four years af­ter found­ing the youth min­istry is still be­low am­bi­tions. He also called on the State Min­istry for Youth Af­fairs to ad­dress the is­sue of youth in schools, at the home and ev­ery­where as the seg­ment of youth con­sti­tutes a large por­tion of the Kuwaiti so­ci­ety and they are the hopes of the fu­ture.

Lur­ing vot­ers

On his part, Dr Yaqoub Al-Kan­deri, Pro­fes­sor of So­ci­ol­ogy and An­thro­pol­ogy at KU and for­mer Dean of the Col­lege of So­cial Sci­ences, told KUNA that can­di­dates try by all means their best to lure vot­ers to vote for them, say­ing that many can­di­dates fo­cus on mar­ginal is­sues and ac­cuse each other rather than fo­cus­ing on press­ing is­sues in­clud­ing youth vi­o­lence. He added that many can­di­dates ne­glect to ad­dress so­cial is­sues such as per­sons with spe­cial needs, vi­o­lence, drugs, el­derly and di­vorce, say­ing that such is­sues when ad­dressed by the can­di­date do not lure vot­ers, but in­stead fo­cus on other po­lit­i­cal is­sues which in­ter­est a large por­tion of peo­ple.

He said the na­ture of the Kuwaiti so­ci­ety re­lies heav­ily on ad­dress­ing po­lit­i­cal is­sues in­stead of so­cial ones, say­ing that pol­i­tics is an easy way to the hearts of vot­ers. He as­serted the call for build­ing the mankind rather than fo­cus­ing on in­fra­struc­ture, say­ing that the so­cial is­sues do not get the at­ten­tion needed sim­i­lar to those per­ti­nent to the state in­fra­struc­ture. Asked whether the cur­rent leg­is­la­tions are ef­fec­tive to re­solve this is­sue, AlKan­deri said that Kuwait is a state of in­sti­tu­tions, but “we lack a prob­lem in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the law ef­fec­tively”.

He also called for sim­pli­fy­ing ju­di­cial pro­ce­dures and im­ple­ment stricter mea­sures against the vi­o­la­tors as ju­ve­nile cases take long years un­til they are over and by then the ac­tual wrong­do­ing would be for­got­ten. On her part, Dr Malak Al-Re­shaid, Pro­fes­sor of So­ci­ol­ogy and So­cial Ser­vice De­part­ment at KU told KUNA that many can­di­dates do not give this is­sue a pri­or­ity as their ed­u­ca­tional back­ground fo­cuses pri­mar­ily on pol­i­tics, eco­nom­ics and le­gal ap­proach, adding that the is­sue of youth vi­o­lence re­quires the at­ten­tion of so­ci­ol­o­gists and ex­perts in these fields.

The sec­ond as­pect why many can­di­dates never touch on this is­sue is be­cause once they do, then they would have to find so­lu­tions to such prob­lems which they won’t be able to do so as they lack ex­per­tise in this do­main. She added that many can­di­dates also re­sort to is­sues that lure vot­ers such as hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and health is­sues and be­lieve that they lack knowl­edge if they de­cide to in­clude the is­sue of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in their agen­das. — KUNA

Dr Yaqoub Al-Kan­deri, Pro­fes­sor of So­ci­ol­ogy and An­thro­pol­ogy at KU and for­mer Dean of the Col­lege of So­cial Sci­ences

Dr Malak Al-Re­shaid, Pro­fes­sor of So­ci­ol­ogy and So­cial Ser­vice De­part­ment at Kuwait Univer­sity

Dr Saud Al-Ghanim, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­ogy at Kuwait Univer­sity

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