Rash driving- it is important to understand that when youngsters are indulging in rash and illegal driving then the elements involved are not only rashness but also recklessness, a thrill of adrenalin, excitement, the need to be ‘faster’ or the need for speed, and of course peer imitation, ‘others are doing it why not me?’. Worse still is knocking down someone and not stopping to help or even feeling remorseful about it.
What does all the above say about the mindset and personalities of our young generation? Let’s understand each one-
Recklessness- is part of taking risks, but one must know good risks and bad risks. And for kids to know the difference we need to nurture logical intelligence. Risk management is an important skill that can be part of education both in schools and at home. A simple exercise for risk management which you can start as young as age 5 is asking hypothetical questions to children and then understanding their mindsets with their answers and moulding their way of thinking by showing them the pros and cons. Try questions like what if clouds had strings? You will notice , the answers you will first receive will all be positive and almost selfish in nature like we can swing on them, we can pull the clouds towards ourselves we can, take a cloud along like a balloon, etc. After eliciting these answers you then need to focus your kid’s attention by asking queries like, ‘some people will take all the clouds above them and get all the rain, is that right?’. ‘What would happen to birds if clouds had strings?’ ‘What would happen to aeroplanes if clouds had strings?’ Now end the exercise by asking, ‘Should clouds have strings?’
An exercise in thinking like the above helps develop the logical intelligence, the individual learns to look at both the pros and cons and not get carried away only with the pros. This should start from childhood.
A thrill of adrenalin or excitement- this means that maybe the everyday activities of the child are boring and lack excitement and that is why they search out such activities that give them that rush and surge of doing something. Good chance for both parents and educationists to look within.
Being faster, well can we blame the youngsters? - Speed is something that we praise in children and we are constantly goading children to be faster, first etc. Hence the concept of speed gets ingrained quite early in life in a child’s mind as synonymous to success. Rarely do they associate speed with danger. Also as much as it is parents responsibility that they do not allow their young children to drive or buy them a car etc it is equally the responsibility of the media and the bike companies to see that their product is not incorrectly portrayed to young impressionable minds. Look at all the television ads of all leading motorbikes or cars; each one is showing off stunts, racing, taking risks. These are bikes and cars that will actually be used on roads with potholes and at a speed not more than 30 kms an hour and even less keeping in mind the traffic in most places, but see their ads, they are zooming, performing stunts and motivating the young buyer to try it out. In this initiative against rash driving why don’t we send a rose to each of these bike and car companies and each of the ad companies that made the ad and make them realise their responsibility towards society, if nothing else they should think of it as their corporate social responsibility.
They feel a sense of immense confidence when they race or drive recklessly- Adolescence is a phase that requires constant booster doses of confidence building. But sadly at that stage the adolescent has the maximum stress of performance and physically they are going through a ‘gangly’ stage. Emotionally also they lack the confidence. What adds to it is when parents and teachers are also more critical and use ‘put me down language’. Boost the young adult’s confidence, show him/her success in activities that he/she is good at and surely instances of young adults seeking confidence boosters from such rash activities would go down.
Peer imitation- parents need to be extremely conscious about who the youngster is friendly with, call them home, meet them and then discuss with your youngster if you notice some mindsets in their friends which are completely different from that of your family. Don’t stop them from meeting such varied mindsets but make your youngster understand that to be successful in life it is not always beneficial to conform and imitate, to be a leader one must be able to stand differently and successfully. Also important here is that children should grow up seeing and hearing you talk about your heroes, your role model and then help them seek out their hero and role model. Till childhood most boys look up to superman and spider man but what happens in adolescent, who is their role model?
What does it tell us when such youngsters race and knock down someone and do not even stop to help? When the upbringing of children lacks enough of emphasis on empathy development and conscience development then as youngsters they will be ruthless and uncaring. Both the home and educational institutions must consciously develop this otherwise we are headed for a very mean, selfish and uncaring society.
So who is to blame for this reckless driving? R.T.O for giving licenses? Cops that turn a blind eye when they see an underage driving? Parents who gift their underage children a vehicle too soon? Or friends and media? The answer is truly in the famous African proverb- ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’. Yes, ‘It Takes A Community To Raise A Youngster’. So his friends, your friends, his peer group, the magazines and TV channels that he watches, the police, the government are all responsible. They all contribute to your child’s mindset. Where do we begin? Charity begins for each one of the above at home. Let’s stop blaming, finding faults, let the change begin.
And yes a final word of caution, please do not sit your young toddler on your lap when you are driving, think about it, are you not sowing the seeds of ‘too fast, too soon’? Better be safe than sorry.