Don’t hand your child a loaded gun

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Less than a fortnight ago, two young men lost their lives in an automobile accident in Jeddah. One of the victims was in his teens and the other barely out of it when their lives ended so prematurely. The vehicle they were driving was one of those bordering on a racetrack model, souped up and very fast. At the speed they were driving, apparently a tire blew out and the car flipped over smashing into a row of trees and bursting into flames.

In view of the fact that the date for women driving on our streets is getting closer, there have been in the local press in recent weeks some features on such issues calling for the government and specifically the traffic department to do something about such drivers. Column after column has been written imploring the traffic authorities to take firm steps against speedsters and other traffic violators. From fines to jail sentences, many suggestions abound. The Saher cameras and radar are apparently not doing enough, many people claim.

However, have we somehow crossed some signals somewhere? Is the government supposed to be a babysitter for our children? Where are those entrusted with the raising of such teenagers, and what are they doing? By “they” I am referring to the actual parents. Is it enough to spawn a brood and then leave them to chance or to the assumption that it is the moral obligation of the government to raise them? Or should parents take a more responsible role, and society a more guiding one, when it comes to analyzing issues such as those that led to this tragic accident.

Should we ask the government to disallow the import of fast cars? Or to add speed bumps to all those inviting stretches of roads? Or to impose a curfew on our teenagers? Or to come up with legislation that restricts driving to those above the age of 25? Or should we, as parents, stop acquiring for our young and often naïve offspring swift and deadly inviting vehicles, and keep a firm watchful eye on their whereabouts?

Don’t we understand that a fast car in the hands of a young teen is like handing him a loaded gun? And with one live bullet in the firing chamber! We are playing Russian roulette, only this time the gun may kill more than just the person holding the weapon. Innocent pedestrians and vehicles on the road may also be tragically involved when an accident happens, as cars roll over or smash onto those around them indiscriminately. And just who, may I ask, handed over such a vehicle to a teen if not the parents?

The young often have an eternal view of their existence. They are not easily swayed by the realities of life and death. To them, their lives are still beginning. But should parents also fall under the spell of such illusions? Or is it enough to show your love and affection for your children by bestowing on them dangerous tools that they could injure or possibly kill themselves and others with?

And if indeed some parents have an insatiable desire to display their wealth publicly, then they should choose safer and more productive ways of doing so. Watching your offspring slip into his speedy vehicle and drive off to end his life is not the way to demonstrate your wealth. Construct parks or training facilities for our youth. Donate the cost of such vehicles to the needy, or help feed and clothe the poor. Put your money into cleaning up neighborhoods or repairing some roads. Refurbish some dilapidated old school buildings. Or build mosques in areas that lack them.

To be sure, if the traffic authorities took further regulatory steps, there would be numerous complaints about too much government. Dear parents! No amount of government control can avert an unnecessary tragedy for your child. Only you can help make a difference. Child rearing begins and should remain at home!

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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