Helping Indo-Canadian Youth
Surrey, Vancouver, June 01,2009
President, Punjabi Language Education Association
The recent spate of violence in Metro Vancouver during
the past few weeks has sent shock waves throughout the country.
It has caused a lot of concern to every law-abiding citizen. This
time around, it is not only the South Asian community but also the
community at large that has been severely impacted by these developments.
The police in all jurisdictions have been doing a commendable job
in tackling this menace. Even one life lost is one too many.
This on-going cycle of carnage has adversely affected
a large number of people in every community. This is more so in
the South Asian community, which has lost close to 132 young men
(mostly in their twenties) to drugs, gangs and violence during the
past fifteen years. Consequently, for the past several years, it
has been actively engaged in preventing violence.
Take for example, the South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth
Violence (SACCAYV). Along with various other organizations and the
South Asian media, this organization has been working hard for the
past few years in keeping our youth on the right track. In this
regard, SACCAYV has produced a number of resource materials which
are available free of charge. These include a booklet entitled:
Understanding Youth and Gangs. It is in English and Punjabi. This
booklet is the result of a collaborative effort between various
police forces, individuals, agencies and the provincial government.
Parents, youth and others interested are encouraged to visit SACCAYVs
website: www.saccayv.com for more information in this regard.
Whether it is prevention, intervention or enforcement,
to its credit, the South Asian community has always been in the
forefront. It is a challenge for all of us. Nevertheless, we need
to continue to work hard in helping our young people and in keeping
our communities safe.
It is rather unfortunate that lately, some of the
young people in their late teens are reported to be drawn into certain
undesirable activities. This indeed is very worrisome. It calls
for even greater efforts by our community to keep such vulnerable
youth from joining the wrong crowd. The best way to do this is through
education, awareness and prevention.
Prevention must start at a very early age. The sooner the better.
As parents and caregivers, we must make every effort in staying
connected with our children. We need to empower them by keeping
them safe and well informed. Boosting their self-esteem is bound
to go a long way in making our children productive and valuable
members of society.
There is no doubt that adolescence is a very challenging
phase in a childs life. However by following some very simple rules
we can have good relationship with them. First and foremost, we
need to earn our childrens respect rather than demanding it. This
can be best accomplished by showing them respect. It works both
ways. In order to get respect you have to show respect.
Second, we must become good listeners. Always pay
full attention to your child when he/she is trying to say something
to you. Hear them out without being judgmental. Listening is a great
skill and an excellent asset. Also, keeping an open mind is very
helpful in this regard. Rather than prejudging we should be open
and give our children an opportunity to say their piece.
Third, we should always keep our cool. A peaceful
mind generates power. By staying calm even under very stressful
situations, we are being good role models for our children. Have
a sense of humor. Humor works wonders even in some of the most difficult
circumstances. It helps in diffusing potentially explosive situations.
Finally, be an active participant in your childs life. Whether it
is their school, sports or other activities, be there to support
them. Stay connected. Let them know that you love them and are there
for them at all times.
Our children are our greatest resource and asset. Consequently,
we must make every effort in helping them become proud members of
our community and the society as a whole.
(Community Activist and Retired School Psychologist Balwant Sanghera
is chairperson of the South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth