CHILDREN'S CORNER with PANIC CHILUFYA
TOMORROW, Zambia and the rest of the continent will be celebrating Africa Freedom Day, an important day in the liberation of Africa. Young people equally contributed positively along our forefathers in the struggle to ensure the liberation of Africa.
The youth took their responsibilities seriously and made immense sacrifices to ensure a better Zambia; sadly this is not the case with some of the young people of the present day. Their priority is to engage in harmful lifestyles such as patronising drinking places; a practice that will eventually impact negatively on their lives in the short term and in the future.
It was sad to learn that recently, Lusaka City Council (LCC) and Zambia Police in an effort to curb underage drinking and illicit sexual behaviour, arrested underage patrons from 30 bars and night clubs in Zingalume, Matero and Emmasdale townships. These were only three residential areas in Lusaka; one can only wonder how many more youths would have been nabbed if the exercise had been conducted countrywide considering that young people are in the majority when compared to adults.
LCC assistant public relations manager, Brenda Katongola explained that the operation did not only target underage patrons but bar owners who were irresponsible to allow children under the age of 18 on their premises and for going beyond the stipulated operating hours.
Speaking when she featured on a radio programme o n H o t F M dubbed ‘Consumer Feedback’, Ms Katongola said bar owners are not allowed to operate after 22:00 hours but most of them have not taken the directive seriously; that is why LCC has started clamping down the violators who are more interested in their bank balances than the irreparable damage they are inflicting on their young patrons.
LCC should be commended for their action and hopefully other civic authorities will emulate them to enforce the laws if children and young people are to be protected especially that some young people usually misbehave through the influence of peer pressure. Maybe it is time to make such operations mandatory every weekend as a vehicle to nab truant underage patrons and those proprietors who do not adhere to laid down laws.
There are numerous risks that young people are exposed to once they begin to frequent drinking places. For example the misuse of alcohol can present health risks or lead to careless behaviour in all age groups, but its effects are greater for young people. This is because alcohol interferes with their development; leaving them with long-term health complications. These complications include diseases such as cancer; sexual and mental illnesses like depression or having suicidal thoughts as well as liver cirrhosis or heart disease.
S o m e y o u n g people drink with the mistaken belief that any damage to their health might only occur in the future but this is not the case because there has been increase in the number of young people with serious health complications b r o u g h t a b o u t because of reckless behaviour.
When young people patronise drinking places, their inhibitions are lowered which makes them likely to do things they normally would not do. They are also likely to indulge in careless behaviour that puts them at risk of sexual infections or unwanted pregnancies. Research has shown that almost one in 10 boys and around one in eight girls aged between 15 to 16 years have unsafe sex after consuming alcohol which puts their lives at risk.
And when young people patronise such places they are likely to commit offences that can get them in trouble with law enforcement agencies resulting into having a criminal record that can damage prospects for the future.
Finally, when young people take to patronising drinking places, this affects their ability to concentrate on their education; they tend to miss classes and in some cases they end up dropping out of school all together. Of course an uneducated youth cannot be motivated or empowered to reach their full potential. This is the time to act to give young people a worthy legacy for the future.
Happy Africa Freedom Day everyone!
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
For comments: pcmalawochilufya@ yahoo.com