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Unchecked machismo, drug abuse fuelling gang violence

  • Published at 01:48 am February 20th, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:51 am February 20th, 2017
Unchecked machismo, drug abuse fuelling gang violence
After the recent escalation of teenage gang violence in Dhaka that saw three separate murders of youngsters last month, the Dhaka Tribune got in touch with several former and existing members of different teenage gangs to explore why and how adolescents become prone to getting involved in crime. According to a former gang member of a group from Mohammadpur who seeks anonymity, the adolescent urge to impress girls goes a long way to fuel machismo in teenage boys. He said: “Teenagers usually get a long break after their SSC and HSC exams. They often start to focus a lot on impressing girls during these breaks.” He adds that if boys fail to establish their popularity among girls during this time, they get frustrated and start acting aggressively. “This is a vulnerable time for guys. Failure in establishing meaningful relationships can often lead to drug abuse,” he said. Several other interviewees with association to teenage gangs opined that drug abuse often serves as the first step to their descent into crime. Most teenagers involved in gangs often suffer from identity crisis and seek validation of others. Another person requesting anonymity, who was associated with a gang in Tejgaon in Dhaka, said that teenagers often start doing stunts with motorbikes to get attention. “Doing graffiti, staying out till late into the night are some of the things they do to get attention.” But then they grab attention of other groups just like them, which quickly escalates to a test of machismo, he adds. Capture36 Professor Dr Nehal Karim, chairman of Sociology department of University of Dhaka, said to the Dhaka Tribune: “Adolescents are very neglected and misunderstood in our society. This is why teenagers think nobody cares about them. They often engage in violence in this egotistical period.” He added that adolescents can keep away from negative influence by keeping busy with creative works. He added that he believes counseling can help teenagers find emotional balance. Bangladesh Police’s Deputy Inspector General (Media and Planning) AKM Shahidur Rahman said that adolescent crime cannot be curbed only by the efforts of the police. “Every part of the society has to play its role effectively to solve teenage gang violence,” he said. Some interviewees pointed out that many young boys derail when they get associated with more seasoned criminals. They mentioned that adolescents from elite families without proper parental supervision, frustrated youngsters from poor families and dropouts are most prone to start gangs in their neighborhoods. Bayezid, who recently took admission in a private university leaving a local gang of Old Dhaka, said that when students involved with gangs go for higher studies, they often have to leave the gang behind and new recruits take their places. “Dropouts are the most prone to get involved in crime, Bayezid said. Billal Hossain, a businessman from Gulshan area, who saw his nephew get involved in drug abuse and gang culture, emphasised that true family bonding could save youngsters from getting associated with gangs. Habib, who was associated with a gang from Motijheel, said: “It’s not that all gang members become professional criminals, but we cannot downplay the influence popular culture and films exert on them by glorifying gangsters.” Munir, currently associated with a gang in Dhanmondi said that he mostly hangs out with his friends, but bad company can often lead youngsters astray. Professor Dr Zia Rahman, chairman of Criminology department of University of Dhaka, suggested that increasing more healthy entertainment opportunities for children can go a long way to keep them away from the escalating gang culture in Dhaka City.
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