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Should nightclubs be banned near schools and universities?

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THE growing number of young people in Cambodia has drawn strong interest from many businesspeople. Because of strong competit-ion in the battle for target audiences, businesspeople believe entertainment places could be a marketing strategy to target young people.  

After seeing this significant interest, the number of entertainment places in Phnom Penh, especially nightclubs, has been growing rapidly. But it’s worth noting that some of these nightclubs are located near places of study that generate human resources that are crucial for our nation’s development.

If you travel past some schools and universities in Phnom Penh, you will see that several nightclubs are built close to study places. Those nightclubs  include Rock, Spark, DJ Club, Andry Khmout, The Best, The Classic, Café Disco and My House.  

Although these nightclubs have licences from the government, some social civil organisations fear  their location may have a bad impact on students when they go to study and see a nightclub near their school.

According to an article by Norbert Klein posted on the Mirror website on February 21 last year, young people enjoy the increasing number of nightclubs, bars, karaoke parlours and beer gardens where they can drink alcohol, use drugs and find many other services.

Mao Puthearoth, co-ordinator of the Cambodian Youth Council, was quoted by Rasmei Kampuchea on February 20 last year as saying the number of libraries, book stores and places for playing sports had not increased in recent years, but there were many more places of entertainment attracting young people.

From my observations, many young people wearing school uniforms go to  nightclubs with their friends or girlfriends and stay there until late at night.

In nightclubs, customers like drinking alcohol, smoking and dancing to loud music. As well, some young people use nightclubs as a place to use drugs.

Exposure to these activities will lead young people into unsafe behaviour including unsafe sex and driving too fast, putting them at risk of HIV infection and traffic accidents.

For instance, according to the April, 2010 monthly report of Road Safety Cambodia, the main causes of traffic accident are excessive speed and drink-driving. The report showed that 60 per cent of injuries and 55 per cent of fatalities are aged between 15 and 29.

Among this age group, farmer had the highest accident rate (46 per cent), followed by students (23 per cent).

According to a most-at-risk young people (MARYP) survey by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in 2010, the proportion who drank alcohol was as high as 91 per cent among males aged between 10 and 24.

The report demonstrated that drinking alcohol was linked with high-risk sexual and violent  behaviour.  

This indicates that the increasing number of nightclubs close to schools and universities will have a bad impact on students because they will prefer hanging out in nightclubs to studying.

Students will spend much more money and time drinking alcohol, smoking and using drugs in nightclubs, perhaps leading them to lose their bright futures.

In short, nightclubs close to schools and universitiy campuses cause several serious problems for young people that need  an urgent response from the government.

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