Smoking, drinking in school uniform

Smoking risk: Childhood innocence is being snuffed out by arsenal of vices
Smoking risk: Childhood innocence is being snuffed out by arsenal of vices

FRANCISTOWN: In the second city, it is common to see students kissing, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol in their school uniforms.

Minestone Park is one popular area with this so-called ‘savvy’ generation, born in an era of advanced communication technology and social media.

A security guard at the recreational park finds that although he is at his wits end regarding the teenagers, his hands are tied.

“There is nothing I can do about them. Some of them actually insulted me in the past when I tried to advise them against drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes,” the guard says, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Francistown City Council (FCC), which runs the park, is flexing its muscles albeit ineffectively.

FCC senior public relations officer, Joseph Wasubera explains that while the local authority cannot arrest children for drinking, smoking and kissing in the park, such behaviour is not tolerated in Minestone.

“This park is designed for relaxation and our security officers are responsible for alerting the police on any anti-social activities taking place in the area,” he says.

The goings-on at Minestone are a microcosm of adult behaviour. Parents and guardians point to a number of factors behind the youth’s brazenly wayward behaviour.

Kakale Mpolokang, 43, believes parents should take the blame for their children’s behaviour.

“Can you imagine a parent buying a Standard Four pupil a mobile phone; what do we expect them to use it for?

“The children may access pornographic sites from the phones and do what they see from the sites,” says Mpolokang.

She adds that parents who sleep with their children in single rooms are also to blame, as children may copy whatever they see happening in the bedroom.

 A father of three shares a painful story as an example of what he says happens when children do not heed their parents’ counsel.

“One of my two daughters is HIV positive because she did not listen to us when we advised her against having boyfriends while still schooling,” he says.

“Peer pressure, fashion, drugs and others are responsible for the behaviour children are exhibiting today.

“In addition, some children rebel because they feel that their parents are not looking after them properly.”

Pastor Goitseone Chidubi of Head Mountain Church believes grooming children to be responsible at a tender age is an essential tool that helps them to know right from wrong.

“The environment in which children grow up influences their behaviour. Children who grow up in good families are likely to be responsible as opposed to those who grow up in abusive families,” he says.

Furthermore, Chidubi says teenagers like to experiment and take irresponsible risks, which they may live to regret.

 “It is embarrassing to see a 13-year-old pregnant or a 19-year-old taking part in a sex orgy on social media sites,” he says.

“These social ills could be addressed if teenagers pray and seek guidance from God.”

Former Tatitown customary court president, Margaret Mosojane equally blames dysfunctional families for the anti-social behaviour found in some of today’s children.

“The family structure has collapsed. There are some parents who are failing to bring up their children the way they were raised in the past.

“Some children grow up as orphans and they lack good role models who may shape the way they live.

“This is compounded by the fact that some adults are engaged in intergenerational love relationships with children who may be young as their grand children,” she explains.

According to Mosojane, the problem is worsened by parents who spend many hours at work and in the process fail to spend quality time with their children.

“Proper child upbringing requires the involvement of both parents.”

Prominent counsellor and life coach, Ntombi Setshwaelo explains that hormones play a role in the behaviour children exhibit when they become teenagers. According to her, the most difficult stage of development for children is puberty, when hormones run wild.

“At this stage, they have more energy and their minds are confused within their immature selves. In the past Bogwera and Bojale initiation ceremonies helped groom children into responsible adults,” she says.

“The responsibility of guiding children to develop into responsible people lies with the parents.”

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