Phnom Penh municipal officials have vowed to crack down on gambling and karaoke parlors near schools, and have ordered municipal police to detain and “re-educate” schoolchildren who visit such establishments, officials said Monday.
“School children will not be arrested or detained in prison for entering gambling parlors, but they must be held briefly for re-education at the scene,” said Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema, adding that detention could last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
He named karaoke parlors, video game shops and billiard rooms as distracting and potentially dangerous vice operations for schoolchildren to frequent and appealed to parents and teachers for help.
According to a Feb 14 directive issued by City Hall, “There is a decrease in social morality…some groups of children use drugs, some abuse tradition and others have become leaders of robbery gangs, which have caused social insecurity and has destroyed the good culture and tradition of this nation.”
The directive continued: “Phnom Penh municipality will take strong measures to monitor all entertainment areas and clubs, as well as arrest drug users and send them to rehabilitation.”
Touch Naruth, Phnom Penh municipal police chief, said that Phnom Penh district police patrolled around seven high schools last week. They confiscated 250 video game booths and briefly detained 138 school children. He said the students were told to stop gambling or face fines and detention.
Khat Dara Rachana, Wat Koh High School deputy director in charge of discipline, said similar continued action could be useful.