Underage revelry or self-destruction?

Schoolkids being caught pubbing, smoking or drinking in Delhi-NCR is not novel. Yet, whenever such an incident is ‘discovered’ and makes news headlines, it ends up triggering conscience alarms.

Sunday last, over a 100 boys and girls from ‘upscale’ schools in Gurgaon were caught boozing and smoking cigarettes and hookah at a pub located in the DLF City Centre Mall. Reportedly, one of them had thrown a birthday party themed ‘Sex and smoke’ and the kids, aged 14 to 18 years, were invited over. After the 4 pm raid, the parents were called over, made to explain their kid’s presence and only then let off.

However, it has led to the various ‘adult stakeholders’ to rethink why such episodes are occurring and how they can be prevented.

Ashok Pandey, principal, Ahlcon International School, admits, “With due respect to the schools to which these students belong, we cannot escape blame just because the incident took place outside school premises. Firstly, we must develop a moral armament in students. They must be made aware of issues like drugs and alcoholism and, where fun ends and illegalities and self-destruction begin.”

“Secondly, I fail to understand how no one in the schools got a wind of what was cooking. If a sizeable number of students are planning to go pubbing after school, there must have been whispers. Our alertness lies in catching these murmurs and averting any untoward event.”

Ameeta Wattal, principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road, insists that besides teachers, parents also have a big responsibility. “Nowadays, it is considered hip to give in to a child’s demand. How do you think this kid managed to throw such a big party at a pub? Not only did his parents finance the do but also allowed him to have and distribute booze. The same stands for parents who allowed their kids to attend it. Didn’t they know it is illegal?”

Parents, however, plead helplessness citing modern times when partying and drinking have become a part of the social order. Nidhi Mehta, whose daughter is studying in Std XIIth at Sanskriti School, says, “These days, every party has booze. Your kid may assure you a 1000 times that he or she will not drink but boys always sneak in liquor and even those who don’t want to have it, take it under pressure.”

“On my part, I make sure that wherever my daughter is going – to a pub or a farmhouse – I should know the hosts and friends accompanying her and have their contact details. My driver drops and picks her up. Also, I consciously make her read articles on stuff like date rape drugs so that she’s aware and alert.”

The biggest culprits, the pub owners, have little defence. Prakul Kumar, secretary, National Restaurant Association of India, says, “All our members are aware that serving drinks to anyone below 25 is illegal. We put out government circulars routinely and also debar those who flout regulations. Other than that, the onus lies on individual pubs.”   

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