Watching the London Riots unfold and take over the whole of UK is appalling. I watch the TV with disbelief, as people burn buildings and cars, young men and women -some hooded, others not caring that they could be identified, run out of shops with whatever they can loot, stealing and destroying property that belongs to someone in their own neighbourhood, perhaps someone they know.
Some boys steal play stations from an electronics store, two women are seen stealing nappies and baby feed, one of the rioters says, “see, this got us noticed.”
“How can they do this to their own people?” I wonder. But we have been seeing increasing youth crimes here, too. Kids in Thimphu committing urban crimes- vandalizing the IT Park, mugging people, breaking into homes and burgling, stealing mobile phones and other high end goods and reselling them, using drugs, drinking, fighting in gangs…
I know young boys- and girls, barely 10 or 11, smoke pot. I remember a group of kids who used to smoke pot at the bottom of a building stairs in their school uniform, and when one of the building residents phoned their principal to complain, the principal asked him to give him their names and classes.
I see young girls belonging to gangs, drinking beer, sitting at bars, carrying knives.
A 16 year old boy I spoke to once, who had been to rehab for alcohol abuse, told me about the number of gang fights they had. The reason he went to rehab was because he was discovered beaten and unconscious by the police. He stole car tyres and sometimes even from homes- people are still looking for him, and he is afraid if he runs into them he will get beaten.
Lam Shenphen, who works with a lot of these kids, talked about how they have nothing to do, which is why they hang around in gangs, roaming the streets late at night, and get into trouble.
Would these kids want a different life? A life in which they don’t have to fear that they will get beaten, in which they discover something they are good at and enjoy praise or appreciation, a life in which there are some people who care about them? I don’t know, maybe they don’t realize it is a better life, but the kid who went to rehab for alcoholism said something to me that makes me think everyone wants something like that.
He was talking about his Alcoholics Anonymous group that met once a week- and checked up on him whenever he was absent. “I like it, when they look for me. They are my friends,” he said. In his old life, no one cared where he was any time of the day.
Back to rioters in UK. I think it is appalling that a lot of people come together to commit acts of crime, not caring for other people’s lives or property. I always used to think that people are essentially good, a few are criminals, which is why we have some crime, but the majority of us, 6 billion people in the world, are if not heroes, not criminals either. This kind of mass crime comes as a blow, and my two questions are what makes them do this, and what can be done to redress this.
This is all for today- this post is already too long to ramble on, but I will add a few continuing posts on several factors I think contribute to the problem, and what can be done.