PETALING JAYA: Merely monitoring and arresting youths involved in gangster activities will not solve the problem, a psychologist and social worker has told the government.
Neither will ad hoc rehabilitation programmes work to turn around troubled youths because most of them are “thrill seekers,” said Integrated Psychology Network consultant psychologist Shoba Aiyar.
In an interview with FMT, she said: “The youth programmes we have now are seasonal. They happen only when incidents crop up like those reported recently. The issue will be tackled during that time and then the programme dies out.
“The government can monitor all they like, but these vulnerable teenagers need outlets to channel all their energy.
“The government should tailor ongoing rehab programmes or youth activities to meet the needs of these teens.”
Public alarm bells sounded recently following the mass arrests of students in Klang, Selangor, for suspected involvement in gangster activities.
The police action led to 42 students being charged in court after two videos surfaced on April 20 showing a large group of boys causing a ruckus outside a school on April 20.
Some young motorcyclists were also shown in the videos bearing banners depicting symbols of gangs.
Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid urged school teachers to come forward and report incidents of gangsterism happening within their schools
It was reported the ministry was working closely with the police, who had stationed liaison officers in schools to monitor activities linked to gangsterism.
Shoba, who is active in social work, said student gangsterism was not a new phenomenon in Malaysia but has come into the spotlight recently because of various incidents highlighted by the media.
She suggested the government should fund NGOs and private youth groups who were willing to host ongoing rehab programmes for problematic teenagers.
“Many youth groups have the ideas and ways to help these vulnerable teens, but they do not have the financial means to conduct rehab programmes,” she said.
She also urged the community to treat troubled youths with compassion instead of ostracising them.
“Many of these troubled youths are neglected by their parents and family members. They were not born evil or immoral, just lacking in love and attention,” she said.
Many of them were left to fend for themselves as their parents were too busy working to make ends meet, she added.
“These kids become vulnerable and join gangs because they are easily influenced by their friends, and they seek attention which their parents and families could not provide.
“They have been brainwashed by bad hats.”
She lamented that parental control in Malaysia was in a poor state. “As long as their kids don’t end up in jail, the parents will just leave them on their own,” she added.