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Transportation takes a toll


Students on their bikes outside university. Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

Among status conscious students, the lure of owning a personal motorbike is hard to resist.

According to Pok Chandarith, an advisory council member of Intarak Devy Youth Advisors, spoiled teenagers who demand from their parents to buy them new motorbike rarely have good grades.

They would rather ride and hang out with friends, taketheir girlfriends shopping or go to clubs, said Chandarith.

“Although parents buy them bikes to travel to school, teens sometimes abuse this privilege. They go racing or commit crimes, which is both dangerous and against the law,” he said.

In a student survey, 10 out of 13 students wanted a new motorbike of car. They shared the opinion that owning a vehicle had in fact, very little to do with their studies.

Peer pressure is another factor to own a vehicle. Mey Chan Sakol, an 18-year-old high school student, said, “When I see my friends drive new motorbikes, I want one too. However, my mother refused to buy for me.”

After much dissuasion from family, he no longer covets it. “Balloons fly because they’re filled with air, not because they are colourful.Likewise, people become successful with knowledge, not through their new bikes,” he remarked.

Professor Samchan Sovandara, a psychology lecturer at Royal University of Phnom Penh, said that teenagers face a lot of pressure to be the best, both in and out of the classroom. Therefore, many rely on materialistic things to show off their social status.

Keo Sovannary, a mother of four, said that children are very demanding but parents make the final decision.

“As good parents, we need to reason with them and give the right amount of advice,” she said.

“Not buying them motorbikes or cars doesn’t mean that we are unfair or hate them. We just don’t have money to throw on such luxuries,“ she added. “It’s also not safe for teenagers to drive new motorbikes. What if they get into accidents or get robbed?”

Chandarith believes that parents should not give in to the whims of their children and buy them motorbikes. They should first discuss the motives for owning a vehicle as a family, he said.

Children should consider their family’s financial situation before making demands on their parents, said Professor Sovandara.



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