It’s a long break for students who are done with their term exams. The month-long break will give our children some respite from the tedium of school routine.

But what will our children do while on a break? How are parents going to engage their children productively?

The whole idea of lengthening the summer break was to allow our children to go back to the village and help their parents with farm work and to allow them to spend meaningful and quality time with their families. That’s why academic session started a little early this year even as the idea was not very popular with parents and teachers.

What is of serious concern, though, is the number of children who end up roaming the streets day and night. In a place like Thimphu and Phuentsholing, school vacations give rise to crimes. Because working parents in bigger towns haven’t much time for their children, the young ones take to unhealthy habits like drinking, substance abuse and gangism.

During summer break last year, Thimphu police arrested six students for stabbing a 19-year-old below Druk School in Thimphu. A series of stabbing cases followed which alarmed Thimphu residents. The government stepped in to urge parents to take better care of their children. What we know is that drugs and alcohol are at the heart of such unfortunate incidents, maybe even too much free time.

What we need is a strategy to engage our young people gainfully, however short or long vacation they have in their hands. We have summer and winters programmes for students. We could have more. Why not? And we can do more. The real challenge we face today is engaging our youth productively, particularly in towns and cities. Just a change in vacation timings cannot make this happen.

Once out of school, the responsibility falls on parents to guide their children. Bhutanese parents find it hard to accept but the truth is they do not give enough attention to their children. Parenting is a problem, particularly in the urban centres. As they are growing up, what our children need is love and attention. When parents go about chasing their small pleasures without the slightest worry about their children, there is a problem.

The buck stops with parents. This one mistake from the side of parents could ruin the future of our young. How are our parents planning to engage our children meaningfully and productively these thirty summer days?