Knowing When To Retreat : Trinidad Express Editorial

Knowing when to retreat

Story Updated: Jun 27, 2013 at 10:43 PM ECT 
Fights among teenage boys were probably more common a few decades ago than they are now. Then, as now, settling disputes through physical violence was seen as the “manly” thing to do. Indeed, many parents would have encouraged their sons to stand up for themselves by fighting. The crucial difference between past and present, however, was that fighting used to mean fisticuffs and, even then, the boys involved would rarely inflict serious injury on each other.
Nowadays, the same attitude prevails, but young people are more likely to take up weapons in their conflicts. In the majority of these cases, the weapons, usually knives, are used only as a threat but, once displayed, it is all too easy for an argument to escalate, with fatal consequences. In similar fashion, those young people who turn to crime not only have weapons, but seem all too willing to use them, hence escalating robbery to murder.
This was the situation which resulted in the deaths of 16-year-old Arshad Kadir and his 17-year-old brother Jafar last Monday night. Leaving a football game after 9 p.m., the brothers were confronted by two reportedly teenage bandits, who took their cell-phone and computer tablet. According to their uncle, the brothers were not the kind of boys to “back down”, and the police reported that they and their friends fought with the two robbers, but were stabbed during the melee. 

On the surface, it therefore seems that these boys lost their lives for a few thousand dollars’ worth of electronic equipment. But it is not so straightforward. Human beings, particularly males, tend to react aggressively when others take advantage of them, and most people also try to stop wrong-doing when they are the victims. Young men are especially volatile in this regard, and even law-abiding ones would try to mete out justice personally when confronted. For them, it is not only an issue of possessions, but also of honour. 
However, in these times in Trinidad and Tobago, teenage boys can be murderers, and teenagers who are not criminally inclined must therefore learn that the better part of valour is retreat, and that retreating is not cowardice but good sense. This is the strategy which parents, as well as persons in authority such as teachers, have to inculcate in their charges. At the same time, young people would only follow such advice if they trust that those in authority would ensure that they get justice when others bully them or steal from them or otherwise trespass on their rights.
 Only then can we prevent teenagers being killed just because they refused to give in to bullies and thugs, who are probably headed to a bad end anyway. 
(Trinidad Express Friday 28th. June 2013)
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