Monday, February 21, 2005


Five years ago, Bhutan became the last nation on earth to introduce television. All too soon came Bhutan's first crime wave - murder, fraud, drug offences.

A Bhutanese newspaper warned warned: "We are seeing for the first time broken families, school dropouts and other negative youth crimes.",3605,975769,00.html

Did Jackie Ashley of the Guardian read about the coming of Rupert Murdoch and cable TV to Bhutan?

Jackie Ashley, in the Guardian February 3, 2005, was worried about teenagers:,3604,1404546,00.html

"Depression, eating disorders, addiction, self-harm and the experience of frightening street violence ... This child, so bright and optimistic so recently, is sunk in grey depression and won't go to school. That one, so athletic and cocky, has been violently mugged and now avoids walking anywhere, lurking inside his bedroom. Another cuts herself. Another suffers extreme bullying and has ballooned in size. Another was stabbed while walking the dog.

"The papers are full of stories of the extreme edges of teenage trauma - the 12-year-old fathers and the child mothers; the suicide pacts made on the internet; the very young binge drinking; those who walk out and never come back.

"The Mental Health Foundation estimates that nearly half a million teenagers are self-harming. According to the Office for National Statistics, some 10% of children aged between 11 and 15 have a clinically recognised mental disorder. Among 16- to 19-year-olds, it is even worse - 13% have neurotic disorders...

" Some highlight a single issue, from the growing evidence of a link between cannabis, particularly the modern super-strength varieties, and psychosis. Others focus particularly on the ready availability of high-proof alcohol and the now notorious culture of binge drinking... Perhaps the move of more women into the labour market in recent decades, with fathers not compensating for the time lost with children, is also a factor...

"In all the talk about the rise in violent street crime, hardly anyone seems to notice that it is teenagers who are often the scared-witless victims. Adult society moans about the fashion-model waifs, but nothing is done and it is teenage girls who suffer the consequences..."


An independent group of Bhutanese academics has found that cable television has caused "dramatic changes" to society, being responsible for increasing crime, corruption, an uncontrolled desire for western products, and changing attitudes to love and relationships. Dorji Penjore, one of the researchers involved in the study, says: "Even my children are changing. They are fighting in the playground...",3605,975769,00.html

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