JEDDAH – Most parents agree that living in Saudi Arabia has several advantages when it comes to raising kids, however, with everything good comes a little bad.
Many families living in the West tend to move to Saudi Arabia or another Muslim country once their children grow up to provide a safe environment devoid of harm and other obscenities.
Sahar Othman, wife of an orthopedic surgeon, moved with her family from the United Kingdom to Riyadh just before her eldest daughter turned 12. She told Saudi Gazette, “Although my husband’s practice was doing very well in the UK, we decided to move to Saudi Arabia where our children could learn Arabic, verses from the Holy Qur’an, and Islamic history. I wanted my daughter to be around girls who wear hijab just like her, fast during the Ramadan, and have the same beliefs.
It is hard for a young Muslim woman to cover herself and behave modestly when the entire community idealizes showcasing your beauty and revealing more.”
Teenagers in the Kingdom are also not immune to adolescent woes due to advances in modern technologies, excessive access to the World Wide Web from smart phones, children have doors opened to the entire world.
School counselors from several cities throughout the Kingdom have recognized and reported to the Ministry of Education the appearance of a new trend among Saudi and expat students, and that is the emo culture adopted primarily from teenagers living in the west.
Keeping up-to-date with fashion is not a crime but over indulging in them becomes a serious problem in addition to overriding behaviors teenagers show off when imitating the culture from the West.
Usually these kids are overly emotional, sensitive, shy, withdrawn, prone to depression, and move towards the rebellious non-conforming side.
Students tend to avoid extracurricular activities and social events at school and distance themselves from parents and siblings. They also have a deep passion for rock music and lyrics that are sad and evoke feelings of despair and self-pity; although many are talented among them.
School counselors believe that parents should start paying more attention to such disturbing and distressing behavior because if gets out of hand, teenagers may inflict upon themselves self-harm, and fall into suicidal thoughts. Defenders of emo culture say that such behavior is very rare, however counsellors suggest that it is better to avoid the pitfall since it contradicts with traditional, cultural and Islamic beliefs.
According to a report in Okaz newspaper, the appearance of the emo culture has been brought to the attention of the Directorate of Education in Jeddah and Makkah, which have contacted all private and government schools in the region and educated them about this problem.
The directorate has demanded all school administrators to distribute educational brochures or host workshops and seminars to raise awareness and warn both students and teachers about the negative implications of the emo trend.
Before the school year is over, students who display such behavior will receive one-on-one counseling and guidance sessions and will sign a contract to abandon the emo culture. The school will contact the parents to initiate communication with the school and the students, as parents can support their child and help him/her overcome this problem.
By the end of the semester, school administrators are required to submit a report on the actions they have taken to address this trend.
The social worker, Majed Al-Matrafi, said, “Adolescent girls and boys may resort to such behaviors as a way to express their feelings, or to be different and unique, or to fill the need to belong to a group after being rejected and unaccepted by peers.
Such behaviors can develop from a variety of reasons but some of the most important are lack of parental awareness, guidance, supervision, and bonding.”
“Emo culture is spreading in Saudi society and significant numbers of students who exhibit such behaviors have been reported to the Ministry of Education. Some teens merely change their dress code without deeply understanding the belief system of the that culture which is not very worrisome. However, others who are more emotionally involved can be a cause of concern,” Al-Matrafi added.