SUKA Society was interviewed by The Star to share on the issue of rising crime among young people. Read the article published on the 7th of November 2010 below –

WE need to go back to school to curb rising crime, says Anderson Selvasegaram, executive director of SUKA (Suara Kanak Kanak) Society. The education system needs to be reviewed to teach children how to think and not just regurgitate facts, he adds.

“Unlike the past, kids today are more exposed, especially now that there is an explosion of information available to them on the Internet. They need to know how to sieve through this information and analyse it.” He believes the problem is that our education system is too examination-oriented, citing moral education as an example.

“In moral education, the kids are taught to memorise the moral values and regurgitate them as keywords. That is not the way to learn values – they need to internalise the values and think about what is right and wrong. “Moral education should be teaching children how to analyse a situation and think about the right way to handle themselves in that situation, simple things like the consequences of one’s action.” Take the case of a young person knocking down a cop at a roadblock, he highlights.

“This is someone who has no respect for humanity. It is not about knocking down a police officer, it is about knocking down a human being who might have a family. His actions will have consequences on that person. Nayagam: ‘The schools and authorities do not know how to … address their needs.’ “What does it say about the youth’s value of life; why is he not respecting human life and other people?”

He says many young people today do not know how to evaluate their own actions. “They don’t think about other people or understand how their actions would affect the other people. At the moment of action, these thoughts do not enter their minds. They are not able to rationalise their actions and think about consequences.”

Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) commissioner and Shelter Home executive director James Nayagam is another who strongly believes that the education system has failed our young. “Now, there are more children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder hyperactivity (ADHD) or anti-social behaviour tendencies but the schools and authorities do not know how to deal with them and address their needs. “It has been proven that children with these behaviour deficiencies are more prone to crime and indiscipline,” he says. ‘Most of the programmes only attract good students.’ Instead, schools sideline them to the last class and label them as “hopeless losers”.

Anderson concurs. When put in this situation, people will go down two roads – either they work hard to rise above it or sink lower with zero self-esteem, he says. “Those who get no attention at school will then find another way to gain this acceptance and recognition. Or worse, they will feel that no one cares and because of that, they can do anything they want and get away with it.”

Shelter home Rumah Nur Salam general manager Dr Hartini Zainuddin agrees that the people in charge need to find another way to nurture our children.. “We need to review the education system, now that we have a new Budget. We need more initiatives that can develop their creativity and help them think out of the box.

“The blackboard method is not working, especially for teens. The old values are still relevant but we need to use what the kids like such as social media network, the Inter­net and other ways to instil them in our young,” says Dr Hartini. She concedes that the Government and education authorities are trying to provide programmes and opportunities to help troubled and errant youth.

“However, they need to rethink their approach. They need to be more teen friendly. More importantly, they need to acknowledge that young people are individuals with independent rights and needs.” Anderson agrees that a review is needed, especially on the programmes conducted to help youths with problems.

“Who are actually benefiting from these co-curricular initiatives? Are the programmes effective in drawing the targeted youths? From what I see, most of the programmes, including the counselling sessions and motivational talks, only attract ‘good’ students instead of those who really need them. It is something they need to think about.”