Youth and gang activity

/ Guest Column / Friday, 09 July 2021 17:20

By-Mangkholun Touthang

These days teenage boys and girls filming their act of brawling or misbehaving and uploading them on social media has become quite a trend particularly in the hill districts of the state. Some weeks ago, some young boys in Churachandpur district were apprehended by the law enforcement and were given severe warnings after their clip of mocking the police went viral on social media. Two three days ago, a video that involves a bunch of young girls brawling somewhere in Kangpokpi district had gone viral but it took nobody by surprise as it’s not the first time that kind of act happened. Those girls were nabbed and were given corporal punishment by local authorities. They were also given conseling in hope to not make the same offense in the future. Now a question has aroused: have Manipur’s teenagers derived absolutely no benefit from lockdowns and curfews?
The fact that many intellectuals in the state incessantly give guidance to young people on how to spend their time during this Covid crisis in newspapers and several social media platforms has become futile. Teenagers seem to focus merely on inconsequential activities which only darken their future. The more people talk about the side effects of mobile phone, the more people are addicted to it, the more brawling or gang activity is discouraged, the more teenagers are inclined to it. It seems teens don’t have the strength to try out new good things or are they just inclined to doing the bad part of something? They always want to try out something new. As long as they keep trying out new good things it’s good for them and the society, but when they start trying out bad things such as drugs, gang activity, theft, running away from home, it becomes a burden for them and the society as well. It’s hard for them to get out of those addictions and that’s the reason why many adults though they are in adulthood still practice doing the bad things which they had done in their teendom. Their age has become mature but their psyche yet to be mature. I’ve known a great deal of people who have reached the age of 30-40 but still get into nonsense fights and arguments.
Anyway, let’s get into the point. Among other things, gang activity has become a major problem in our society these days and teenagers are the ones who are most inclined to it. It’s crucial that we find a way to solve this problem. In the past years gang fight involved only teenage boys but now it has changed and girls too are beginning to take good part in it. I can’t say for sure what makes even girls partake in this kind of activity but I can assume watching violent movies has made them eager to try this risky activity. The saying “playing violent games make people violent” is applied to watching violent movies. Not only teenagers like to copy the styles and attitude of celebrities they see in movies, they also want to copy what is done in a movie. When the movie they watch is romantic, they become romantic and when the movie is about war or violence, they get violent in real life. This is a fact.
There are some good reasons why teenagers join gangs and become involved in violent activities. A teen joins a gang because he feels safe when he’s with his fellow gang members, he thinks he earns respect from joining a gang, he joins because he doesn’t want to be alone while his friends are enjoying their lives together. A teenager is at higher risk of joining a gang if he engages in delinquent behaviors, is aggressive or violent, experience multiple caretaker transitions, or have many problems at school. And although people don’t want their kids to join the gangs, the decision always rely on the kids. And once a teenager joins a gang it’s not easy for him to run away from it. For gangs offer youth a sense of safety and security as well as friendship and even a sense of family. They feel like they are a family and their fellow members become their brothers and sisters. This is the reason it’s almost impossible for a young person to leave his gang through the mere advice of his parents and elders since he is so closed with the gang members. He himself has to make the choice and make the decision if he has to leave the gang. Leaving the gang mostly relies on him.
There is a gang in Kamjong district that goes by the name Street Thug Gang (STG). It’s not violent anymore since the members have become sane. But during their glorious days, they would break into people’s shops and loot them, they used drugs and would involve in almost every quarrel and fight, and they were responsible for almost every crime. Their parents, elders and the local authorities thrashed and threatened them to stop their organisation and their violence but it did no good to them. The more they were punished the more they were inclined to doing their activities. It was only when they themselves realised their insanity that halted them from being violent and making further offenses. Like I said, since a gang member considers his fellow members as his own flesh and blood it would do him no good even if you thrash and threaten him to leave the gang, if he has to quit the gang and the violence, he himself has to make the decision.
But I’m not saying leaving the gang entirely depends on the gang member. Yes, he has to make the choice and the decision but how would he do it without any help? The society should not use violent means to stop their violent activities but use other pacific methods. One of the main things that attract gang members is graffiti. We can help young people stay out of gang activity by removing any graffiti in our neighborhood or local school grounds. The longer it remains, the more it attracts gang members. Tell teenagers there’s no future for gang members, tell them that by spending time with their homies they are only wasting their time and money, tell them they are the pillars of the nation and that there’s something better than being in a gang, and religious leaders too should counsel teenagers according to their own religious law. In case the bond of their fellowship is too strong and seems unbreakable and nothing seems to work to tame them, encouraging them to engage in charity works would be a good advice. After you’ve given all the above mentioned advice, give the youth the time to mull over. It could take him a day or weeks or months to change his mind so you’ll have to wait it patiently. Just don’t use coercive methods to make him/her leave the gang, it would only worsen the situation.

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