Youth delinquency and security governance

View of Amman
(Photo: Pixabay)
When results of Jordan’s Tawjihi (general secondary education certificate examination) are announced tomorrow, the streets of Amman will likely be transformed into a maze of celebrating students hanging from car windows and sunroofs as they race dangerously through the capital’s already jam-packed streets.اضافة اعلان

Others will set off family-owned firearms in celebratory gunfire, further increasing the risk of unnecessary injury and death.

The Tawjihi celebrations and other forms of youth delinquency such as drag racing, underage drinking and smoking, and loitering are typically written-off as a case of “boys will be boys” (and girls will be girls) but there are larger looming questions about what this phenomenon means for the country’s security and stability that often gets ignored.

Over the years, Jordan has fared pretty impressively when it comes to dealing with cases of radicalization, terrorism, and violence but has fared rather poorly when it comes to their prevention.

While the argument that youth delinquency could lead to such extremes in adulthood is far-fetched and a little prudish as well, there is still some truth behind this.

The lack of respect for authority and other unfavorable behaviors that are witnessed on numerous issues today does not occur in isolation.

They are partly the result of the historical inability (or unwillingness) of government to implement the law and government’s inability to shape societal norms.

Law-breakers have likely been given a free pass all their lives (no consequences for their actions) nor have they been shaped to be better citizens (no guidance or norm setting).

It would be interesting to see, for instance, what happens to those students involved in campus violence as they reach adulthood given that their actions go unpunished.

In either case, the hands-off approach that the government has in dealing with this phenomenon does not bode well for the relationship between young people and the government as the former get older, and the country’s overall stability and security.

 The principles of good citizenship that government is supposedly tireless trying to instill in Jordanians cannot start at a later stage in life.

Youth delinquency also sheds light on the inability of government to provide outlets and alternatives for young people as they navigate their teenage years and beyond.

Most young people in Jordan have little else to do in the summertime other than roam the streets in their cars until the early hours of the morning; young males in particular are not welcome anywhere.

Unbeknownst to many, one of the reasons for the introduction of Taekwondo in Jordan in the late 1970s and early 1980s was to curtail youth delinquency and get young people off the street, just as Judo was part of the British government’s attempt to prevent young people from joining gangs.

While youth has been a very topical and trendy subject for government, at least since the onset of the Arab Spring, it seems that not enough is being done.

The authorities tend to have an all-or-nothing approach to addressing these types of issues.

Adopting a heavy-handed approach to youth delinquency is not the solution and could be a catalyst for further youth disenfranchisement.

Another wrong approach would be for government to throw this issue into the laps of security institutions to solve.

The solution lies with a combination of good social engineering and community policing; two policy approaches that are rarely in use.

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