Curfews are a set time of day when certain groups of people are restricted from a certain activity. This seemingly helps to stop social ills among youngsters as they will be kept at home and not stay outdoors being up to no good. However, such a notion only works in theory as such social ills stem from a deeper issue.
Parents will be relieved to know that as of the time of writing, there is no such curfew being imposed by the government. Indeed, many parties have spoken out against the suggestion.
Social Ills Not Limited to Outdoors at Night
Imposing a curfew on the youth would be counter-productive in solving the drug abuse problem among teens, said Hannah Yeoh, the Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister. Substances abuse is not just limited to outdoors and could also happen right at home.
She likened curfews to disciplining all children the same way when only one misbehaves. A blanket curfew would not make sense. She added that compulsory education in Malaysia ended at 12 years old, and teenagers who had to work would be affected, according to The Star.
Furthermore, Yeoh said that there were sufficient laws to deal with drug abuse. Thus enforcement of drug abuse activities should already fall under those established laws. If these laws are not successfully enforced, adding on a curfew would just result in the same conclusion.
Additionally, she said youths were not the only ones up to no good at night. People of all ages can cause trouble throughout the day.
Only Scratching the Surface
Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has said that the government was “seriously considering” a curfew for those under the age of 18. This move is intended to curb social problems, in particular drug abuse. The matter was raised at the Cabinet Committee on Eradicating Drugs meeting last month.
Aside from Yeoh, other parties also do not agree with the idea of a curfew. The proposal for a curfew was a cosmetic solution that would only scratch the surface of the true issue and not tackle the root cause, said National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan.
He said that lifestyles have changed over the years. Now, there are many households where both parents are working, compared to before where one parent would stay at home to look after the children. With the absence of parents overseeing them, children can easily pick up bad habits from their peers. Tan added that sending children to after-school activities would be a beneficial use of their time.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said that Malaysia’s situation was different from Iceland. However, the concepts applied there could be used in the country.
The Importance of After-School Activities
In Iceland, having a curfew is just one part of its initiative to curb social ills among teens. In fact, the curfew is not even a law, but a norm monitored on a community level where parents of different households look out for each other’s children.
The greatest part of Iceland’s success lies in after-school activities. Youths are given the choice to participate in any activity of their liking, from sports, dance, or arts. There are coaches to guide them in being proficient and letting them feel good about their skills and abilities. These coaches also teach them healthy values and useful life skills.
These measures have proven effective, as the percentage of teens who have been drunk in the past month dropped from 42% in 1998 to an astounding 5% in 2016. Similarly, those who smoked daily went from 23% to just 3% and those who have ever used cannabis dropped from 17% to 7%.
Curfews are Not the Main Solution
If Malaysia were to follow in Iceland’s footsteps, having a curfew is not the only step needed to be taken. Proper awareness, resources and infrastructure for after-school activities needs to be established in tandem with a strong parental support system.
To any parents with “misbehaving” kids, it may be time to rethink the situation from their perspective. If they are misbehaving out of boredom and stress, it may be appropriate to send them for after-school activities that can make a better use of their time, as well as teach them important life skills.
For more information about parenting and family, please visit Motherhood.com.my.