While family and religion are no longer the primary ways for young people to socialise, more and more
Cambodian youths today value their family property, using it to hang out, drink, eat and skip school.
The trend has alarmed the whole country, owing to its contribution to drug use and crime.
According to Cambodia’s Most at Risk Young People Survey (MARYPS) from the Ministry of Education in 2010, approximately 70 per cent of women and 91 per cent of men report drinking alcohol.
Drinking is often perceived as a way of socialising among peers in Cambodia. A total of 3.5% of female respondents reported ‘ever using illicit drugs’ while 15.2% of the male group reported doing so..
Sadly, some of this group fund their habits with their parents’ property – sometimes without their permission.
Sopheak, 20, who admits using drugs, said his parents allowed him to stay in their house despite his behaviour – which has included selling and selling his parents’ money and property.
“I have sold my motorbike for hanging out with my friends, using drugs, drinking beer, and going to nightclubs,” he said.
“I don’t listen to my parents. I don’t care, because I cannot control myself.” he said.
“But, I will change soon, and I do hope everyone has the chance to change too.”
Srey Lin, 21, dropped out of school in grade 11 and said she feels she has misspent the money and property that her parents have given her.
“I usually money that my parents give me in the bad ways such as singing Karaoke, drinking beer and going to night club,” she said. “I know it is not good but it makes me happy and I feel like a modern woman.”
So Kimhai, the centre manager at KHANA said that drug users usually earn money through working as construction workers, or even via illegal activities such as stealing property.
“That’s why KHANA works with drug users because they are vulnerable people who are sometimes affected by HIV and other issues,” he said.
Savon, 56, a seller in Phnom Penh said she was forced to cut off relations with one of her oldest sons in 2010, as she could not control his actions. She eventually decided to inform the police about his
“I didn’t want to cut off relations, but I had to force myself to do it because he destroyed all of our belongings and was out of our
control. Now, he lives outside home but I still give him some money when he comes back to visit,” she said.
Cy Rano, 19, a second year student of Institute of Foreign Languages and Institute of Microfinance and Economics says that he regretted dropping out of school in grade 10 to hang out and play games with his friends. But now, he feels he has become a good son, student and citizen.
“I hope that all young people will spend his or her family’s money in a good way, and not follow my bad example. Please, try to study and take your time to do everything to benefit yourself, family and society,” he said.
Kimhai suggests that young people with problems like substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, gangs or crime should talk to family, teachers or professional health care providers who he or she trusts.
“Parents have to spend time with their children rather than just give them money and other materials,” he adds. “Government and other health agencies have to promote youth health, counseling and skills.”
Thoung Keo Bunnate, planning officer Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Education, Youth and Sports said: “Young people who do bad things, please give it up and follow other good citizens in society.
“Take time to improve our country by doing volunteer work or trying to study, rather than commit crime.”