OCTOBER 30 — In 2017, eight teenage cyclists died after being hit by a car at 3am. As predicted, because the driver and cyclists are of different races, it has become a prime target for the usual social media suspects who love making everything about race.
I don't wish to speculate on the case or on the driver's acquittal. What I am thinking about is why the kids were out at 3am. It wasn't just them but apparently they were part of a massive group of about 30-40 cyclists.
Make of that what you will but it has led me to reconsider my previous stance on youth curfews.
The way youth curfews are implemented in the US, kids from minorities or disadvantaged households are disproportionately targeted for punishment.
I grew up in a poor neighbourhood; I understand why so many kids, living in less than ideal households, feel the pull to be with their friends.
They don't have the distractions more well-to-do kids have at home such as videogames or other comforts.
Many kids have parents who work night shifts leaving them alone unattended while some come from single-parent households, that sometimes means a lack of supervision.
Kids are kids. If they're riding dangerously modified bikes at 3am in the morning, they have to think they have no better options.
I don't think punishment will work in this age and fines will just hurt the poor, while not fixing the problem.
We lack a proper structure for the care of youth and we forget that old adage — it takes a village to raise a child.
If the kids are unhappy at home, then it's time communities with aid and encouragement from the government set up places for them to go. We don't have proper youth centres in this country for instance or at least safe spaces they can find refuge, if for any reason, it can't be their own homes.
We have to adapt to the times. Towns and cities need to foster their own kind of communities, the way villages once did.
It's not impossible but it will need a fair amount of imagination, a lot of hard work and that ever important thing — money.
Corporations do not hesitate when it comes to marketing to youth so why can't they be persuaded, with tax breaks and the like, to help fund youth centres and initiatives?
Much as we'd like to think that families can look after their own, in their own little nuclear silos, the thing is that all parents could use a little help.
Parenting is hard work but essential — those annoying young 'uns sneaking out of the house at 1am are literally the future.
Malaysia has a poor track record of protecting and nurturing our young — sure, we have a high survivability at birth but from there, it's every parent and child for themselves.
We can do better for our children and keeping them safe after hours should be on everyone's mind, and not just those who happen to have them.
Let's work on a future where the only thing you might run over on a highway at 3am is a tin can. It's what the children deserve; it's what our country needs.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.