Problems for 2012 (Debes)

By Santy Asanuma —-

I was asked what would be the number one problem for Palau if I had to choose. I was not very happy with this question because I could not have it my way. My problem is I have too many problems that I want to be number one so that they can be attended to and be resolved once and for all. So I suppose we are leaving another year behind that is full of problems and entering into another year with high hopes (oureng adidil) that somehow we will do better. I wanted very much to put divided people as the number one social problem; or elusive economy; or health issues; or directionless politics; or neglect of cultural values. Without much choice, I put misguided youth (a re ngieask el uriid) as the most urgent problem for obvious reasons.

The collective youth issue continues to be a major nuisance enough to have made it to one of the top topics during the last election and the numerous ones before it but nothing has really been done to meet the problems affecting young people. According to recent surveys, smoking is on the rise and getting to younger ones in the grade schools. Because chewing proves to be more expensive due to more ingredients to buy, they opt for smoking. Plus, they easily get it from the plentiful source called home. Thanks to “omengeleoch” (showering kids with what they want) practice by dear parents and grandparents.

Use of alcohol among teenagers is spreading like wild fire and pre-teens, as an age group, are being lured to drinking thinking it is cool. And you don’t have to look elsewhere but in the confined of family settings or events like omengat, first birth days, family reunions, etc. Alcohol has become part of our culture even though we are hesitant to admit it. It is readily available and easily accessible to young children. Drinking is virtually everywhere and young children can see it as being normal. Drinking alcohol or being drunk (cheltelaol) is no longer a shameful act for them.

There is no longer guessing or debating if these behaviors would pave the way to other illicit drug use. Smoking marijuana is getting to the younger kids in the grade schools and seen as soft even harmless drug. Due to such common attitude, numbers of elementary students have been caught for possession of marijuana on campuses. So there is no doubt that there are more of them, and this has been going on  for much longer time on these campuses than we are willing to admit.

Little wonder and it should not be a surprise at all why our children have become more rebellious, violent, injured or killed, and even consider suicide as an option. We allow them to watch violent films or play violent video games endlessly to occupy their minds. Violence is no longer a deviant (ng diak el teletelir a re chad) act and has become part of their life. The ultimate manifestation of this subculture is the prevalence (blechoel) of publicly expressed anger and the emerging popularity of “machete-ism” (te di mreal lolab a sondang) among our youth nowadays. And they are not going to “ureor beluu” (volunteer community work).

Debes for the youth who do not know what it means in Palauan is unfruitfulness; in other words, unproductiveness.  I do not have a solution but I have a resolution for all of us. A priest in his homily this Sunday on Holy Family when Jesus at age 12 was inadvertently left behind in Jerusalem by his parents thinking he was walking in the journey back home with the other members of the family. They started to ask who is walking with their son. I pledge to walk with as many young people in the journey of 2013 so help me God.

2 Comments to “Problems for 2012 (Debes)”

  1. Thank you Santy for this rather interesting post. I am not there so I don’t really know all the resources available but I have to wonder if there are enough public awareness of these problems and consequences that goes with them. Are there enough education given to the students about the effects and consequences of using these drugs and alcohol? I strongly believe that through education we can minimize the problem. I also believe that we have to find out the root of the problems and start from there. Some might have turn into that direction from may be family problems or may be boredom etc. In which case, we have to identify and make available resources to the students and the families so that together we can turn these youths into productive citizens of Palau in the future.

    May be if Palau have after school programs in varieties so that students can choose from and stir them away from getting into the wrong direction, I think that would help, this is only a thought. As we know each one of us have different things we like to do so if we can may be get some some feedback from the students and then work toward them, I think that might help. How about getting volunteers to run some of these aftershool activities, say PCC students and earn some credits toward their time spent there. What about our elderly who I think are the best teachers. And what about our political leaders and those who can be role models for them along the way.

    I feel really bad for these youths because they are so young and they don’t know any better so they get themselves in trouble and some land up in prison and may be then they will wake up and ask what have I done but it is too late. Then their records follows them and when they turn to adult it is even worst, finding a job with a record can be a challenge. But, if given a second chance, meaning doing their term and then released I think they can turn their lives around in a good way. I believe that before they get out they do their 6 to 6 curphew, please correct me if I am wrong. I have a suggestion, why not work with the Minister of Justice and make it a mandatory for those that are getting out with the same crimes involving the same listed above to go to the schools and speak of their experiences so that the students will have a clear idea of what the consequences are, it might just send a warning sign for them not to even think about turning into that road. I also think that it would also make the prisoners feel motivated to do good and change to productive citizens if they feel or even know later that they have made a difference or prevented a youth from destroying their precious lives. After all, who would be the best educator to these youths than the prisoner who have lived in the prison. Thank You!

  2. Georgia Tapia…I normally do not converse with commentators of my writing. I thank you for your attention because it is such public outcry like yours that demand some sort of action by our society that will stir people to do something. Thank you and God bless.

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