Parenting is a lifelong journey with no readymade toolkit that could be bought to ensure success in the endeavour. Each child is unique and so are his or her parents. All have problems and solutions. Considering the high-pressure world of today including parents, peers and the media that teenagers face, it is not surprising that the number of troubled youngsters is rising. Many believe that troubled teens are a product of the society they live in. Others feel that several factors play a role. We present the debate.

You find that teenagers, increasingly, have a poor sense of moral values.

Yes that is true. I think, because you take your values from your family. You need parents' influence, but these days parents are either busy or have no time, or the children are away at college or school. So there is no proper communication between children and parents. Also, don't forget the influence of friends, which can be bad.
- Sayed Sharif

Yes that is true. We usually take our values from poor families. If the family or parents are not around, either separated because of travelling to study or for any other reasons, people's values can be affected.
- Sameer Ismail

Of course, they have poor moral values. As parents are not 80 to 90 per cent dedicated to their children, with negative influence from friends, the use of internet and what is on television, I do not think our teenagers today hold moral values like those we had in the past!
- Abdullah Atta

No, I think when you reach the age when you are a teenager, you will already know what your values are. So if you were raised right by your parents, you will have the right values and as a teenager you will know where you stand.
- Mike Roaf

Never spare the cane when it comes to disciplining youngsters.

Young minds need to be moulded, not crushed by the battering of canes. Teachers and parents are supposed to give a child a positive view of education and discipline. If children are hit constantly, they are not only physically affected, but also mentally and emotionally scarred. This leads to retaliation and loss of respect. Instead of raising respectful youths, you will be raising the complete opposite - a gang of vandals. It is my [as a 17-year-old] conviction, that the constant beating of a child is futile.
- Mishaal Pervaiz
Sharjah, Via email

Caning and physical chastisement is illegal in the UK. My experience is that hitting children alienates, rather than inspires them. Judgments that we hold as adults are frequently founded on prejudice. Children and teenagers often find such judgments bigoted and hypocritical. Keep channels of communication open. Ask your children for their own ideas and opinions, and discuss them. It may be harder work to think things through, rather than "lay down the law", but it maintains closer relationships.
- Sue Hutton
UK, Website comment

I don't believe corporal punishment is the only remedial solution to poor sense of moral values among teenagers. This is a reflection of the environment in which they live. Smoking is another problematic issue among today's youngsters and it is not only due to parental negligence, but other factors such as peer pressure and media. A well-balanced home environment, accurate guidance and co-operation of both parents; all these are the crucial factors in moulding a well-rounded personality in teenagers.
- Anata Krishna
Sharjah, Gulf News Reader's Club member

A common misconception is that technology and relatively new attitudes have caused a lack of discipline in teenagers. Being the son of liberal parents and someone who involves himself in society, I can say that this viewpoint is wrong. An awful lot is asked of us. It should not be surprising to anyone that teenagers have great strain placed on them. We go follow life philosophies similar to those of our parents. And, like our parents, we shall emerge from our youth in a fashion that renders us fit for productive contribution.
- Nikhil Dasgupta
Dubai, Via email

Parental negligence leads teens into bad habits such as smoking.

The family conditions, environment and societal influences/norms are the foundation for teenagers and children. Failure of moral development in teenagers stems from poor attachment to parents, influence of the media and peers. Good behaviour and moral values must be taught and reinforced by parents, media and society.
- Trevor Charles De Sousa
Dubai, Via email
Member of Gulf News Reader's Club,

One of the main approaches to teaching behaviour is to build on a child's instinctive feelings of empathy through regular reasoning. This involves pointing out the consequences of the child's behaviour on other people. Such an approach is far preferable to "power assertive" forms of discipline that involve punishment or the deprivation of privileges. It is important to instill in children a respect for authority.
- Rahul Dominic
Dubai, Via email

I think all of us teenagers are old enough to know what is right and what is wrong. We have been educated about bad habits. I, myself, have some friends who smoke but this didn't initiate me to smoke. All parents to an extent can guide us; it is we who deviate from all the good habits.
- Mohamed Rehan
Dubai, Via email

I am a 57-year-old mother of four, but I am truly proud to say none of my children has a sign of being violent. As they grew up, they were exposed to all kinds of media — radio, television, newsprints and magazines. If children grow up in a family environment with violence, with parents fighting and indulging in verbal abuse, they will be like them. I believe parents are the best teachers.
- Susan Querouz
Sharjah, Via email

Attitude is necessary for teenagers to develop their personalities.

The expression is "Attitude is everything". In truth, attitude does play an important role in shaping and developing teenagers' personalities. A positive approach in life with a realistic attitude develops self-esteem in teenagers. A positive attitude builds confidence. Personality development is all about giving one the outlook on life that translates into success for teenagers.
- Nalini Angelica
Dubai, Via email

Yes it is necessary to develop an attitude. In the end, this is what will define who you are. It is your personality and what you choose to show people. Also, if you don't have attitude, you will be picked on by others and bullied.
- Steefan van der Plas

The major problem is the age and moral gap between parents and their children. Every parent wants their loved ones to be brought up as they were, especially the older generations. Each parent wants their daughters to become as their mothers and sons as their fathers. However, this attitude is wrong; every generation has its trends.
- Raad
Saudi Arabia, Website comment
Full name withheld by request

I think attitudes design the personality. Teens need to have a positive attitude. A negative attitude would not be productive and won't contribute to society.
- R.S. Kalsi