On January 6 last, Adnan Kabir, a 14-year old school boy was beaten to death. His killers were allegedly the members of a teenage gang he once belonged to but deserted to join its rival group. The furore over the killing did not send a shockwave all across the length and breadth of the country. But it should have. Uttara is a posh area where usually the upper middle class and the rich people live in. Now at a time when teenagers of Adnan's age are supposed to be busy with studies and/or sports and games, they are forming their gangs to establish supremacy in the area in a style of the mafia dynasty as depicted by Mario Puzo in his celebrated crime novel The Godfather.
Not long ago, the crime world of Dhaka city was controlled by different underworld gangs who had divided their areas on the basis of mutual understanding. The gangs evidently followed the mafia style to create a reign of terror in Dhaka. Thank god, a very determined drive against such groups has been successful either in eliminating or driving their gang leaders out of the country. Put on crossfire, most of them had their underworld reign cut short and the city people heaved a sigh of relief.
Now the emergence of teenage gangs -as many as two dozens of them - in Uttara is certainly a disturbing development. How can boys as young as them think of forming criminal gangs and expect to be treated with esteem. Has there been a psychological sea-change in teenagers? Rabindranath in his short story "Chhuti", shed light on the teenage psychology. The protagonist of the story is Fatik who is ill at ease in his conduct with elders but has gathered a following of his own because he commands some respect from them. Yet Fatik was not violent, rather he was shy and withdrew within himself in an effort to hide his awkwardness.
In case of teenagers of Uttara, they have their ringleaders who are usually a little older than the rest and drop-outs from schools and colleges. What is surprising, though, is that they drive motorbikes and assault not only others of their age group unable to show them the kind of subservience they expect but also elders who fail to accept their status as a power-wielder. Awkwardness of teenagers has given in to demand for obeisance. A rebuttal is likely to be met with violence and criminal activities. Already a few of the teenage gangs have proved how insane they can be and to what an extent unleash their frenzy on their victims.
At a time when teenage boys are heavily burdened with studies and are turning mentally handicapped by the excessive pressure from parents and guardians, the teenagers from Uttara have ample time to spend in the afternoon either in the name of sports or meeting their friends. They are even provided with motorcycles which they use as their new found status symbol on the one hand and as a fast moving vehicle to commit crimes on opponents and others. Parents and guardians should take some blame for spoiling their teenage sons.
The problem in this country is that when crimes of any type takes place, the incidents are followed and repeated by others. Acid-throwing, child torture and murder and sexual crimes have followed a pattern all through. The apprehension is that teenagers elsewhere will take cue from the teenage gangs of Uttara in order to form their own groups elsewhere. It is not uncommon that community life is essential for children and youths in society but how this community life is used and what for decides the fate of a nation. Sports and games, debating clubs, libraries, dramas or cultural programmes cannot be organised individually. There is need for gathering children and teenagers to instil in them from an early age the ideal of mutual esteem, cooperation and love. In order to make them responsible citizens, there is no alternative to initiating them into sports and games on the one hand and songs, music, drama and art on the other.
Instead, children nowadays are introduced to computer from an early age. Courtesy of video and internet games, youngsters grow psychologically delinquent. Violent and bizarre, the video games are irresistible and children grow addiction to them. Their inhibition thus gets somewhat released but at a heavy cost. Juvenile delinquency thus shifts into criminality and this is how teenagers act most notoriously and violence becomes habitual at a certain point.
In the absence of sports and games and cultural activities, a vacuum has already been created and this is filled up by the wonder of technology and gadgets. Those who can make good use of the gadgets have no problem in their life but those who live in an unreal realm of fantasy world make a mess of life. To them technology comes as a curse instead of a blessing. So, controlled and discreet use of computers for children must be ensured in order to avoid problems later.