While we still enjoy the reputation of being the land of the peaceful dragon, some might be a little surprised at the amount of violence we see with increasing regularity in the capital.

A majority of the youth involved are students who antagonise others or are provoked by a mere exchange of words with other youth. Our youth appear to be walking around today in an atmosphere of high tension.

On average, police arrested at least two youths every day in conflict with the law in the past eight months.

While some were involved in trafficking drugs cases, others were involved in battery, alcohol abuse, larceny and other crimes.  Most of them were unemployed.

Last year alone, RBP apprehended 689 youths of which 186 were students. In 2020, 689 youths were arrested of which 162 were students.

In a recent case, a dispute in a school spilt onto the street. Youths were found in possession of weapons and chasing each other on the streets. There is no school in the world where students do not get into fights. In the world of youth, where competition stirs rivalry, tension cannot be avoided.

Boys will be boys, we have heard. The wild spirit of youth has always got them into trouble with each other, with their schools, and with the authorities. Given the easy flow of alcohol, nobody is surprised to hear about the late-night scuffles. And it would be unrealistic to expect that we will be able to prevent it.

A not-so-healthy trend in many schools is the tendency for bigger youth to bully the younger ones or for larger groups to dominate smaller groups. But this is nearly impossible to avoid, given the young minds that are yet to mature and understand human relationships from a broader perspective.

That is why good schools have rules that are strictly enforced to ensure that such unhealthy trends are not fanned.

But a school fight is one issue, a knife injury is another problem altogether. Any individual who goes out, carrying a weapon of any kind, is a menace to society, particularly a peaceful society. Today frustrated youths attack each other. Tomorrow they will attack the innocent.

It would be reassuring to know that the standards of decency are established and the innocent are protected. As much as we allow entertainment centres we have to provide protection for the general public. Those who are involved in violence have to be punished, the severity depending on the nature of the act. And it should be known that they are punished.

Amidst all this, the launch of the hospital-based Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment and Care Services, and Anti-bullying Guidelines by the Patron of the Pema Centre Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen yesterday is a timely intervention.

Hospital-based Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment and Care Services would provide an effective referral pathway for persons with SUD through a continuum-of-care approach.

The Anti-bullying Guidelines for educational institutions will enable them to nurture a safe and harmonious learning environment for children and youth. The guideline will provide a strategic reference for educational institutions to support their anti-bullying initiatives.

With law enforcement agencies tightening their grip on defaulters, it is critical that other agencies working for the youth build on the initiatives of Pema Centre to help our society to become a just and harmonious society.