As our society moves forward, many places of entertainment have been established in Phnom Penh.
That means there are more places for young people to go and enjoy themselves.
They often play truant by hanging out with their peers, and they spend money even though they have no means of earning it.
Some of them go to expensive karaoke parlours where they often have to pay more than $100.
As the only son in a family, Narith liked going out with friends during his study time. The money he got from his parents was never enough for him, although it was a lot compared to what his friends got.
To fulfil his need for cash, Narith usually told his parents he needed to buy textbooks or study extra classes.
He had a motto: “Money isn’t important. What’s important is friendship.”
Going out with friends became so important to Narith that he forgot about everything else. He even sold his motorbike to fund his nightclubbing habit.
It’s too bad that students use their parents’ money for such activities. In effect, they don’t care about their future.
As for the immediate result, consider the case of A Chrok (a nickname), who was caught by police carrying out a robbery with his peers while wearing his school uniform and brandishing a gun.
At the time, A Chrok was broke and desperate, according to a friend.
Chem Chomreoun, 47, a seller in the Phnom Penh Thmey Block and a mother of three, all of whom are in university, says she and her husband have had to work harder to compensate for their children’s spending.
They keep their shop open until 11pm and wake at 3am to cook food to sell the next day.
Chomreoun and her husband work hard to save every penny, but she says: “No matter how hard it is, I will not stop them studying.”
They are not the only parents facing money problems. There are many others who are in a similar situation: they are not rich, and their son doesn’t heed their advice.
Choeurng Yoeurng, a mother of six, says her son always seems to have a reason to ask her for money.
She says he asked for $200 so he could go to work in Thailand, but he was away from home only six months before he came back.
She says unhappily about her son: “Because I, as a mother, love him, I always try to advise him. If he chooses not to heed my advice, I just let it go.”
At the same time, there are students who try their hardest in their studies, even though they face difficult circumstances.
Hak Meng, a year four student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh majoring in the English language, is working very hard at his studies, even though he is an orphan.
“Every week, I receive a total of 70,000 riel from my older sister and brother, which has to pay for my rental house, my clothes, my food, my studies and my entertainment,” he says.
“Whenever my friends call, asking me to go out with them, I think of the three choices: borrowing money, letting them pay, or politely declining their offer. The last option is the most common choice.”
Hak Meng is a team leader of WISH, a group that helps support children through charity work in rural areas of Cambodia. Even though he is not rich, he understands the value of money and children’s needs.