Tackling Social Malaise

By Guest Contributor

Gerlinde Hedwig, PhD

Considerable material progress in recent decades has brought about some serious social challenges and issues of social malaise in developed societies. Commercialization of life, sexualization of young people, and individualism that often expresses itself through self-gratification are now haunting the post-modern world.

An increase in exclusions from primary schools has discovered “worrying” levels of sexual behavior among very young children. Reports are also showing high levels of “trauma” such as family breakdown and domestic violence. Young people are now drinking far more than before. In a society where nafsaniat (sensuality, permissiveness, promiscuity, etc.) is abundant, the pressure on individuals is tremendous.


Young people generally lack maturity, are vulnerable to social ills and susceptible to social pressure. Schools have been established to create good human beings who can make a positive contribution to society, not to train rapists, pedophiles, gangsters and drug users. Rather, these kinds of individuals have found themselves in a society that has lost its direction.

Increasingly, early sexualization of young people via tools such as television, the internet and magazines is having an impact on their innocent and balanced growth. This is having an unwholesome impact on their attitude towards life: what should be innocent youngsters enjoying their childhood is being tarnished by an early over-awareness of sexuality.

A stable family environment is essential for healthy growth of children. Domestic violence, teenage pregnancy and unhappiness among children have become disproportionately high. Marriage is losing its importance in society and divorce is increasing at an alarming rate, giving rise to more confused children.

Over the centuries materialism has marginalized religion and, as such, societies have fallen in the grip of amoral or often immoral values. Morality has become selective and double-standards have taken over in most political decision-making. In the social context this has given rise to permissiveness.

* Communities must invest in educating parents in positive and assertive parenting. This empowers parents in understanding the world of youth in a post-modern society and gives them confidence through useful techniques of addressing the challenges.

* Young people are energetic and need strong role models. They need help in understanding a meaningful, sound and stable family life. They need basic life skills training, i.e. communication skills, anger management and decision-making.

* Problems of depression, family disorders, poor parenting, drug and alcohol related stress have now become common and contribute to development of mental illnesses. Mental health therapists who are well grounded should be included to assess and treat such individuals.

With greater awareness, necessary targeted interventions and positive contributions from concerned communities, social malaise can be overcome. The age-old proverb ‘desperate diseases need desperate remedies’ is now the demand of time.

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