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Better governance needed to avoid more buai trade deaths

Student mayhem: Future leaders are running out of control


An entry in the Rivers Prize for
Writing on Peace & Harmony

VIOLENCE runs rampant in Papua New Guinea and we seem unable to stop its spread.

One recent incident concerned so-called cult practices and school fights among the younger generation.

On Monday two weeks ago, I saw a headline in The National newspaper about six school students from Gerehu Secondary and one from Port Moresby Grammar - being drunk and disorderly at 5-Mile next to the National Broadcasting Corporation.

The report stated that five of them were female Grade 9 students.

Such sights are not uncommon but it is truly saddening to see underage drink-ups rear their ugly head.

Anna Wills, acting officer-in-charge at the Boroko Juvenile Justice Centre, said some of the students’ parents were policemen

“There’s always peer pressure and parental negligence that makes these children act like this,” Ms Wills said.

Why are students doing this and why aren’t their parents aware of it? It’s doubly troubling that some of the students were the children of police officers.

So what is our society doing about this? Students need something to keep their minds off drinking beer at such an early age.

Another recent issue is the incidence of school fights.

As a high school student growing up in Port Moresby, I was involved in some of these school fights and I can tell you they were driven by peer pressure.

We felt we needed to be in the circle with the rest of the boys defending our school. It was testosterone; being a man defending your pride the school.

But Papua New Guinea is also a country where we practice mediation and reconciliation or what we call “outside of court dispute settlement”.

But after all the mediation and breaking of bows and arrows and exchanging gifts, we continue to fight.

And now students have gone to the next level, using social media to threaten foes and promote themselves.

In a report on EMTV some time ago, it was revealed how the use of social networking has helped to fuel these school fights.

Student ring-leaders with homemade guns posted pictures on Facebook and were praised by their peers.

Groups were created to support this ridiculous cause and they debated and ridiculed opponents on Facebook.

This trend has become extreme, and to think they are just in secondary school. What a way to start your adolescence.

This is the type of behaviour that keeps our nation from being at peace. Students, the future leaders, throwing away their education to drink and cause havoc,

So what should be done about this? It all starts with the family, of course. Our first teachers are our parents.

But then again, it’s also about the society in which we’re brought up. If we begin to see violence and underage drinking as a norm that no one really cares about, we are more likely to adhere to it.

The people who practice this behaviour need to be identified, changed and turned into peer educators for peace and gutpela sindaun (harmony).

If this generation can be spared a future of violence and hatred then we can look forward to a brighter Papua New Guinea.

I think one of the key areas is keeping sports competitions between schools alive and strong, like in the past.

Where have all the competitions gone? When I grew up in Port Moresby in the early 2000s there were the Pikinini Sports at Sir John Guise Stadium, where we played soccer from Under 8 to Under 18 in our primary and secondary schools. And there were the famous inter-school sports carnivals.

Then there was the schools rugby league competition. The last time I saw students playing was in June this year at Unagi Oval. It was a sad site. The students were playing without proper jerseys, and some didn’t even have coaches.

Frankly there is no support by adults and business houses toward promoting competition between schools. Maybe if our kids played together on the field, they would develop a better communal understanding,

Playing in a team is about playing for each other. If you know someone in a competition, you’d wave or say hi if you passed in the street.

People who respect themselves respect their opponents. It’s a long shot, but if we nurtured students to be in their schools, perform their best and not cause violence it would be a breakthrough for PNG.

Young adults and students love sport, and a well-organised competition makes it better. I’m sure it would limit the school fights and devastating drink ups.

It’s like adults don’t care what their children are doing outside school. Only God can read minds, parents cannot. So they need to ask questions and try to help kids understand these things.


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Fidelis Sukina

That's right. School discipline has got out of hand. With the free education policy there is overcrowding in public schools and students are quite hard to control.

A J Lambo

Education in Morobe is centralised. That means that the local provincial government must step up and do something extraordinary to change student attitudes for the better.

All these problems now can be rightfully attributed to a chronic breakdown in school discipline.

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