Wed. Apr 14th, 2021

What have we done to our youth?

By Adnan Ullah

It is said that charity begins at home. This is especially true because family is the most basic unit of society. Today, however, because of many challenges with parenting such as absentee parents, single parenthood, neglectful parents among many other challenges, many parents have dropped the ball and abandoned their responsibility of raising their children with the right values. This has resulted in a youth population that is not guided with the right value system. This has in turn exposed young people to higher risks of dropping out of school, risky sexual behaviors, drug, alcohol and substance abuse among many other risks

Despair, depression , Suicidal thoughts, a childhood of abuse, night terrors, stray dogs, gender labels were transferred into beautiful artworks, but reflected a deep anxiety. Art is a natural vehicle for personal expressions. How many of those hundred million or so young Pakistanis have similar anxieties that are never heard? Have we disempowered our youth?youth all over the world is struggling to be heard. For instance Malala Yousafzai for education, Greta Thunberg and the school strike for the Climate and March for our lives for gun control.

At the ages of 17 and 20 Muhammad bin Qasim and Alexander  the Great,  were leading huge armies of man old enough to be their  fathers, who placed their trust in their  young generals .Today, the only profession where young people  are given leadership roles is in the world of computers.while, child prodigies those one in five million gifted young peoples in art music and mathematics are dotted through history .There was a time when all the Children  were considered young adults. They were taught skills needed  in adults  life from an early age how to wield a sword, ride horses,hunt, makes fires, work the fields ,learn statesmanship or simple household chores. Many communities continue to include their children in the adult world. Children tag along with adults learn by example, many are apprentice to experts. This is seen not just a necessity, but a system to empower children for their smoothly transition to adulthood. Ancient wisdom states, “If you do not cleanup your floor how would you clean up the world”?  The change in social role of children came with the start of industrialization in England in 1760, agradually spreading  to the  rest of the modernizing world. Families left village to the labour in factories, living in crowded cities, or mining   communities much as they do in Pakistan today. Children became part of this labour force .Losing the benefits of losing growing up in traditional communities. To bring an end to exploitation of children, factory facts and  children protection bills were created. Philosophers locke and Rousseau the Romantic poet presented childhood as a time of innocence to be protected and preserved .Children literature was developed with stories and nursery rhymes of gentle humour  and fantasy. Modern schools were established with uniform curricula. Children’s toys doll house  and  organized sports  became essential. This definition of childhood continues today. While no one would argue with the noble intentions of these changes, it established childhood as a separate entity  from the  adult world. A distinct age was established to declare a child’s transformation into adulthood varying between 14 and 18 years. Philippe Aries in his book centuries of Childhood, suggests that childhood as we conceive of it today was not a natural phenomenon but a creation of society.

One consequences has been that young people today are suddenly thrown unprepared into the responsibilities of adulthood. Unfortunately in the contemporary world poverty and war are the two factors that force children to deal with adults  responsibilities  or be exposed to experiences we usually  protect our children  from Adults constantly remind young  people  that the future  belongs to them  a future everyone agrees is uncertain. They must also ensure young people feel empowered and supported to envision and shape that future.

The contributor has studied Environmental Science at International Islamic University Islamabad. Email;

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