x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Smoking is not a right for inmates

Other letters discuss difficulties in learning formal Arabic, attack on 11-year-old and Emirati society.

Inmates in the nation's prison system do not have a right to cigarettes, one reader says. Stephen Lock / The National
Inmates in the nation's prison system do not have a right to cigarettes, one reader says. Stephen Lock / The National

In my struggle to learn Arabic in the UAE, the stark differences between formal and colloquial Arabic have become very clear (Arabic school aims to boost popularity of the language, April 26).

Very little is written in colloquial dialects, meaning that everyone reading in Arabic is basically reading in a second language. It is unfair to compare them to English-speaking fans of Danielle Steele or Harry Potter when it comes to the number of books they read.

I find the UN survey a little incredible. I am an American and an avid reader, but I barely read 11 books per year. A recent AP poll says it's more like seven books per year, and that's excluding the 25 per cent of Americans who didn't read any at all.

Rachel Lange, Abu Dhabi

Schools must protect children

I was horrified by the article about the 11-year-old girl who was beaten severely by four boys in a Musaffah schoolyard (Girl, 11, unconscious in hospital after school playground attack, April 25).

As a child psychologist who specialises in training parents and teachers in topics such as child discipline, I am concerned that this incident is not isolated and points to a wider problem.

I have seen boys hitting and beating each other for sport in my own children's school and on the school buses that pass me while I sit in traffic. When I ask why no one intervenes, I am told that it is just "normal roughhousing". Boys will be boys. Yes, however, parents and teachers must realise that boys turn into men. Your children's experiences today mould who they will become tomorrow.

In today's world, adults need to have a variety of 21st century skills. When you allow a child to solve a conflict through violence, you rob him of the opportunity to learn valuable life skills. Ask yourself: "What are my children's experiences teaching them for later life?"

In addition, aggression and violence should never be allowed as a form of play. Young children cannot differentiate between pretend and reality.

Those four boys and that poor girl will require counselling, but the school and teachers should be held accountable. The school should revise its discipline policy to ensure that violence of any kind will not be tolerated at school.

Proper teacher training should back up these policies. Parents everywhere should ask themselves: "What kind of man do I want my son to become?" Then start early in providing the experiences that will help him reach his best potential.

Ann Lopez, Abu Dhabi

This is the responsibility of the teacher in charge of watching the kids on the playground.

In any school in the UAE, there is always a teacher on duty to watch over the students during the break. This is a standard procedure of Adec.

Haytham Ghareeb, Abu Dhabi

Educated Emirati men are out there

Clinging on to certain conservative counterproductive societal expectations, and constantly seeking approval of a society, is not always the way to live your life (A dilemma for brides-to-be: where are the Emirati men?, April 23).

If a woman wishes to meet the man of her dreams, you've got to take certain grown-up decisions of your own. Just because some ways are embedded into the local cultures - ie, "In Emirati society, it is unacceptable for women and men to socialise" - doesn't mean you should accept such ways. Have a "middle of the road" approach.

I am pretty sure there are a thousand educated, worldly, decent and hard-working men (Emirati or otherwise) in the multicultural UAE who are seeking a soulmate to share life and its moments. We all get to live only once. Good luck.

Name withheld by request

Smoking is not a right for prisoners

No detainee has any right to demand cigarettes (Inmates who set fire to detention centre over cigarettes jailed, April 9). In fact, quite the opposite.

Jails should provide only the legal, civil and human rights that all people should be afforded, under all circumstances. Also, detainees should be housed in an area that has clean and adequate places to sleep, with adequate amounts of clean water and healthy food, and be provided emergency medical needs and a clean place to pray.

Other than these rights and basic needs, detainees have no right to "demand" anything. Whatever an inmate may want that is beyond the basics should fall within a system of penalties and rewards.

Cigarettes are not a basic necessity. In fact, they cause harm, damage and destruction of health, so they should not be provided. It seems more than logical to use the time that one has authority over another person to improve their condition in life, not to contribute to a disgusting habit. Nicotine is not only a drug, but it is one of the most addictive and damaging of all drugs. In California, there is no smoking in jails and prisons.

Salee' Amina Mohammed, Abu Dhabi