The shops around Thai Temple area are just within a walking distance from where I live and my children often go there on their own to buy things. But last year, my eldest son Thukten Subba was made to realize that going to even to the nearest shop alone and that too with money in hand is not always safe in Thimphu.
He had wanted to have Koka and had begged his aunt (my sister-in-law) for Nu.15. When she gave him the money, he rushed out to the shop to get Koka but as he went running down the sidewalk beside Thai Temple, he didn’t notice that two small boys were following him from behind closely. He said that suddenly, one of the boys held him from behind and covered both of his eyes with hands while the other boy snatched away the money from his hand, and ran away. The boys ran off so fast that my son couldn’t do anything but to return home crying and horrified. Fortunately, a neighbour’s son had seen the incident and my daughter along with that neighbour’s son mobilized some more children of their age from the neighbourhood and followed those robbers through the town. It seems they could catch hold of them at the traffic junction and got back the money. To our amazement, my daughter told us that she gave Nu.5 back to the robbers and asked them to have something with it.
I am sure the incident had traumatized my son because he refused to go to the shops alone for several days thereafter. As a parent, I am really worried what kind of future we can hand over to our children if this is the kind of environment in which they are growing up. It was the 2nd time my son was exposed to such a violence. The first was when two groups of young boys had a severe gang-fight just in front of my house a couple of years back during which a policeman was critically injured. I still remember him asking a couple of times why people fight in groups and what will they get if they win the fight. I feel that exposure to such violence at such a tender age can either affect their developmental process as a result of trauma, or might encourage them to indulge themselves in such crimes as they grow up.
I think it seriously calls for the need to pay more attention to the overall development of our children in the face of rapid globalization and modern developments. The parents have the most sacred responsibility of grooming their children in a healthy and safe environment so that they can grow up to become productive and responsible citizens of the country. What I feel lacking in the midst of busy routine urban life today is adequate time and attention that we parents must give our children. I have realized that as a result of daily hassles and bustles of modern lifestyle, some children are not getting the required amount of time and attention from their parents. As a result, they do not get the right person to guide them when they tend to go off-track. I believe that home is the first school where children should learn good values. As a parent, I and my wife are trying our best to give our children what we can, to help them grow up in good health. But as every other parent, we are equally worried what they will ultimately grow up to become. I strongly believe that we need to really know how to balance our professional and home life especially if both the parents are office-goers so that our children will get enough care and attention and that will make them feel one with the family. I feel that the gap between parents and their children should be narrowed down in order to be able to understand each other’s expectations, needs and concerns. We must always be mindful of what kind of friends our children are messing up with, or what kind of habits they are developing. Whatsoever, I think we should never get tired of guiding our kids whenever required. As our children are growing up, we keep our fingers crossed and hope that they will not fall into undesirable social traps at any point of their life. May the Guardian Deities of this holy land save all our children and youth from such social ills and bless this great nation with eternal peace and harmony.