There have been several recent incidents of teenagers from elite backgrounds engaging in serious crime. In one incident, reported from Islamabad a few weeks ago, a group of A level students allegedly abducted a female classmate from an upmarket restaurant and subjected her to rape. In another case in Karachi, a group of O level students bludgeoned to death a 17-year-old classmate. A police investigation is continuing with the motive still unclear. Cases of date-rape have been heard off in all major cities.
There is, of course, absolutely no reason to believe the wealthy are in any way less inclined to immorality than their less well-to-do peers. But in cases where boys from privileged backgrounds have been involved in armed robbery or car-jackings, there seem to be other motives involved than those that lead the unemployed or the desperately poor to commit crime. There may be the so-called ‘thrill’ factor involved as a possible motive for such acts, as is the case in other countries. But perhaps we also need to look a little deeper at our society and the way in which it is evolving. The degree of violence we live with on a daily basis and see regularly on our television screens has clearly had an impact on minds, influencing the way people think and act. This is perhaps especially true of the young — deeply influenced by the world unfolding around them. The acceptability for violence has grown, and this has an impact on many aspects of life. Even primary school teachers notices differences in behaviour. Playground games today often feature killings, stabbings and terrorists attacks. Small children, with frightening realism, re-enact the aftermath of bomb blasts. We need to seriously consider where we are headed in terms of the violence we see all around — and the way this is shaping lives. Increased disrespect for human life and its value is just one facet of this. We do not know where the future will lead, or whether we as a society can overcome this process of brutalisation that affects us all.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.