Commentary on "The Staid Young"

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  The writer’s arguments are valid, and are largely applicable to Singapore’s society. Many countries have introduced, if they have not already in the past, tougher measures to police youth’s disruptive behaviour in order to curb such violent acts. At the same time, the standard of education for many youths have increased, inculcating important values and providing youths with information, while acting as a deterrent against dropping out from school. In addition, parents have increasingly become nurturing parties that help to bring up their children with better moral values and learning attitudes. All these phenomenon have been relevant and apparent in Singapore as well, making the passage very applicable to our society.

The author finds that the tougher policing in many societies, including Britain’s, has curbed many illegal acts that teenagers of the past had used to indulge in, such as the consumption of alcohol. Hefty fines and “ferocious policing” have helped to catch and punish such teenagers, along with the stores that abet their illegal acts. According to the author, such policies double up as deterrent measures as well, to prevent such crimes in the future. This argument is valid, because an increased policing is a measure that increases state resources dedicated to dealing with crime and illegal youthful indulgences. Naturally, this would lead to a reduction in the crime rate, because there is more manpower and effort directed towards solving the problem, giving law enforcements the necessary resources to identify such activities. In doing so, we direct citizens, especially youths in this case, away from immoral acts and encourage them to pick up better habits instead. This argument is relevant to Singapore as well, though the context may be different. Singapore has long had a reputation for tough crime-fighting policies, and so there has never been much destructive behaviour in the country. Its recent prosecution of “Sticker Lady” Samantha Ang for pasting stickers on traffic lights and lamp-posts only goes to show the continuation behind Singapore’s tough stance on crime. Effectively, Singapore enjoys low crime rate, even for juveniles, showing that there might possibly be a link between having tough policies and better behaviour in youths. This resounds with the claim of the author.

The author also explains that the increased standard of education, and subsequently its cost, has made youths more staid and strait-laced. On one hand, the education in and of itself has taught youths morals and information they require to excel in school and in life. On the other hand, the “new premium on education”, such as increasingly expensive university tuition fees, has given youths a stronger reason not to neglect their studies. This is a valid argument that is also very applicable to Singapore. For many, a good education represents an opportunity to succeed later in life. With the necessary skills and knowledge, students will be better equipped to deal with challenges, and have the necessary qualifications. This hope acts as a source of motivation for youths to study hard, and keep on track. This argument is especially relevant in Singapore, which mostly follows a meritocratic system — the standard of education one receives usually determines how successful one is later on in life. Hence, a huge majority of students are often serious about their work, and put in much effort into preparing for their exams, such as the GCSE O Level and A level examinations. Clearly, the rise in standard of education has encouraged more youths to be more hardworking and determined to succeed in school.

Another reason brought up by the author is that parents now positively influence their children. First, the fact that many young people still live with their parents means that they are more restrained. Second, youths are now brought up with more attention, care and strictness, as parents become increasingly determined to help their children succeed, by helping their children in any way they can, as compared to the arguably more laid-back style of parenting seen in the past. This leads to youths being more hardworking and strait-laced, having been encouraged to study hard by their parents, and inculcated with stronger moral values. This is a valid argument — parents are often a strong source of influence for their children, which means that more time spent with their children can be expected to lead to children that have better learning attitudes and a stronger moral compass. In Singapore, though many parents may be working in the day and do not take care of their children during that time, they often send their children to childcare centres during that time, and catch up with their children in the evenings to help them with schoolwork. Many Singaporean parents have also been credited with being “kiasu”, or being afraid that their child may lose out to others in school, or in life ten years down the road — this turns out with them being very strict with their child’s behaviour at home. All of this reflects the degree of care and concern they have for their children’s future education and occupation. This comes in stark contrast with parents of the past, who would often leave their children to their own devices, expecting them to pick up the necessary skills on their own. In essence, the increased parental influence in the lives of their children motivates the latter to work harder and strive to do better in the things they do, picking up better moral values along the way.

In conclusion, it is largely true today, especially in Singapore, that young people nowadays are hardworking, serious about their work, and have good moral values. The three main reasons for this, as the author states — namely tough laws and policies, increased standards of education and heightened parental influence — are indeed very valid explanations for this phenomenon, and they are very applicable to the Singaporean context. Ultimately, I agree with the author on his point of view on young people today. 


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Hi guys, I'm a student in Singapore, and this are some thoughts and essays I have written over the years.