Semommung who was presenting at a Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Botswana children’s reporting workshop for local scribes said children come from families of their own and today’s society is facing issues surrounding child psychology. “When a child is left on their own from the ages of 0 to five, without guidance, love and care and in the absence of good parenting there are bound to be problems in their later life,” he said.
Semommung, who is against corporal punishment, argued parents to play an active role in bringing up children as opposed to the 21st century practice where they are actually being raised by housekeepers. “This is an assignment for us all. The current status quo requires a paradigm shift from the church, government, civil society groups, the media and we need to work together,” he said.
In addition, he spoke strongly against the country’s legislatures governing children as most are in disharmony with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the revised Children’s Act. Moreover, he decried that the Children’s Act of 2009 is not fully implemented as some people continue to send juvenile offenders to the traditional leadership for corporal punishment yet the new instrument prohibits that.
He cited schools in this case and argued that the traditional leadership is no longer responsible for undertaking such. He hailed the Act as a good piece of legislature though the inclusion of corporal punishment is an eyesore that UNICEF is not happy about, and it hopes to bring to the table soon. Semommung said retributive punishment is not effective when compared to corrective one.
A survey conducted by MISA Botswana has revealed that children do not find the conventional media, especially newspapers, interesting, as they tend to cover politics and business as opposed to human-interest stories that impact on their lives. Romang Mogapi, information and research officer at MISA said a study conducted in June this year found out that children wanted to see articles that would help them do their school work and research. Generally, there is not sufficient reporting of children’s issues and in the event that they are featured the articles are not in-depth and are events orientated, she said.
The focus group for the survey was junior secondary students, who largely depend on the newspapers bought by parents. The media was encouraged to give children a platform to express their voices instead of being treated as second-class citizens who do not have an opinion. In addition, imaging children in an embarrassing manner that has the potential to subject them to victimisation has been highly condemned, as the best interest of the child has to be prioritised. The local Children’s Act and the UNCRC defines a child as everyone under the age of 18 years.