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Authorities targeting truant gamers

DAUN Penh district authorities detained 43 truant students in a raid on two unlicenced video-game arcades in Phsar Chas commune Wednesday, saying that the games were causing youths to miss school and neglect their studies, local officials said.

Yos Yuthy, Daun Penh deputy district governor, said authorities also confiscated 48 computers, which were sent to the district hall.

Videogame arcades, snooker halls and karaoke bars are not permitted near schools, he added.

“The 43 boys have been brought to the district hall for education, and we got a guarantee from their parents before we released them home for the evening,” he said.

He added that the crackdown had also extended to the rest of the capital’s districts.

He said the purpose of the crackdown was to educate students to avoid computer games, as constant play could distract them from schoolwork and increase truancy.

The raid followed several days of investigation into the two arcades.

“Before we led the operation to raid these two [arcades], we found several days ago that they didn’t open doors for the public and didn’t allow strangers to come and play,” he said.

“We didn’t detain the owners of the clubs, but we have given them time to come to the district hall to make a resolution and sign a contract [pledging] to close their unlicenced businesses.”

Yos Yuthy could not say whether the confiscated computers would be returned to their owners.

Ros Ravuth, a teacher at Chaktomuk High School in Daun Penh, applauded the crackdown, and said computer games hurt the performance of his students.

“I strongly welcomed the crackdown by authorities, which is a positive response for society and allows students to pay attention to their studies,” he said. “They can now improve their reading.”

He said that a number of videogame parlours were formerly located in close proximity to the school, causing students to skip class.

“It made them crazy. They lost a lot of money playing them, and they were having arguments about playing,” he said.

“I see it is better that there are now no videogame clubs around my school.”

YOUR SAY: VIDEOGAMES AND YOUNG PEOPLE

Duong Kok Leang, 15
Grade 9, Chaktomuk High School
“I only play videogames occasionally for fun on Sundays near my house, when I am free and tired. I never skip class during my studies to play videogames. I don’t play very often because I’m afraid of being arrested by police, because I used to see my friends being arrested while playing videogames.”

Ly Chin, 20
Hairdresser
“I used to play videogames
for fun at a video- game shop
near my house when I was 6 years old, but I stopped after being told by my mother that playing videogames was useless. It is not good to play
videogames, they really cause students and teenagers to forget their studies and waste a lot of money.”

Ream Piseth, 19
Grade 12, Sisowath High School
“I used to play videogames for fun a few years ago when I was in grade 10, and sometimes I skipped class, but now I’ve stopped. I used to be obsessed about playing videogames, I used to cut class several times a week and waste a lot of money. Sometimes I was ashamed to go back to class when I was late back from playing.”

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