Do we really recognize the issue?

Who is shocked by this report? Anyone? Is there anybody perceptive enough, who has missed these signals? I mean, is even the constituency as limited as “teens” or has the trap spread wider?

Before reading further let us recall the theme of our times : Liberalism that incubates Individual Rights and Equality of the Sexes. Are we as a society that is slowly slipping down the slippery slope, willing to touch these two major causes of our society’s impending decay? I say impending because the decay can be arrested today.

However, it can only be arrested if we start to recognize that with Individual Rights come responsibility toward the wellbeing of our society. If such wellbeing is threatened, then society and it’s institutions must overrule Individual Rights.

That Equality of the Sexes is a modern myth that has led societies elsewhere and will lead us, toward untold suffering and pain. That women and men have their own special roles and responsibilities toward each other and toward their families.  That nothing that endangers family and society is really worth keeping and nurturing.

Are we urban folks in Hindusthan prepared to recognize the issues involved? I have my doubts.

– Namaste

Help, Bangalore’s teens need you

K Brindaa Lakshmi / DNA

Bangalore’s weakest underbelly is its vulnerable teen population. Alcohol and drugs are breaking the age barrier as young students turn into addicts. 

Just 16 years old, Rajesh is being treated for alcohol addiction. He still goes to a PU college and attends classes regularly. He joined a recovery programme when Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) began its formalised campus awareness modules for the first time on a large scale this academic year.

AA campus programmes are aimed at young adults, students from standards 8-10 and PUC students in the age group 15-18. The programmes are being offered as part of value-education classes.

While this was just an informal exercise on a few campuses earlier, this year five institutions have been covered under the programme. Earlier, the programme covered only one hour per college. This year the programme has taken a new avatar with one-hour programmes for each PU class in the campus.

Some colleges have covered up to 22 hours. Experts warn that teen alcoholism and substance abuse is a growing and worrying trend. As part of the programme, former alcoholics and family members of alcoholics interact with students talking to them about their experiences and AA’s role in their recovery. Programmes like Alateen (for teens) and Al-anon (for family members of alcoholics) are also held.

“Students are into substance abuse at a younger age now due to problems they face at home: Stress is high, parent-child interaction is low and peer pressure is immense,” says Nisha Mehta, a value education teacher from a PU college that has completed the programme. “Parents often use money to make up for their absence; children misuse the money.” (Pala S – With more fathers and mothers working, there seems to be no support for the child. “Nuclear” families have already distanced the caring hands of grandparents)

AA members say city teenagers are extremely vulnerable to substance and alcohol abuse. “I started drinking when I was 13 years old. I went into recovery at 18. Peer pressure is high during early college years. Awareness is vital to let them know that recovery is available and possible at any age,” says Pradeep, public information officer, AA.

“Awareness is important to differentiate between (alcohol) addiction and substance abuse. Addiction is a brain disease that is caused with anything, not just alcohol and drugs. Only 5% of the male population and an even smaller percentage of female population are addicts. Several problems arise as byproducts of substance abuse like drink-driving and unsafe sex,” says Vivek Benegal, associate professor of psychiatry, NIMHANS, Bangalore. (Pala S – So here’s the catch. This doctor cannot recognize a fish when he catches one. Why is it important to differentiate between addiction and abuse? Let the doctors do that.

Is casual sex fine as long as you are “protected”? Our unearning youngsters drinking is fine as long as they “know their limits”?

Some Hindu nationalists believe speaking about such dangers is being prudish and “Victorian”. I don’t think so. I believe Hindu tradition speaks of responsibilities of the individual. The individual exercises Rights in proportion to the Responsibility he accepts toward himself and society.

Students’ names changed to protect identities.

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