CHILDREN'S CORNER with PANIC CHILUFYA
TEENAGE years are a time for exploration and discovery, it is this time that some children choose to challenge boundaries set by parents because they are exposed to overwhelming external and internal struggles.
Young people especially teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 years are expected to cope with hormonal changes, puberty, social and parental forces.
The issues young people face are different but they can be easily resolved if parents and or guardians took the time to understand the symptoms of their problems.
As a result some young people feel misunderstood and through the influence of peers they decide to run away from home to live on the streets with those they feel understand and appreciate them.
According to UNICEF, there are two groups of street children. The first group refers to children who are homeless, and the streets are their source of livelihood, where they sleep and live.
While the second group comprises of children who work and live on the streets during the day, but in the evening, they have a home they go back to, although some occasionally sleep on the streets.
Once children are on the streets they are exposed to sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS as a result of unprotected casual sexual relationships. Girls often offer themselves in exchange for security because of their vulnerability. They are also subject to dangerous and illegal activities such as drug dealing, crime, theft and gang activities.
It was interesting to listen to a news item last weekend that compelled some children to leave their homes in preference to the streets of Lusaka. Some children are as not as vulnerable as they depict; they were able to testify that they have one or both parents or even family members who are willing to take care of them but they preferred life on the streets. While other children explained that they were on the streets due to peer pressure or lack of attention from the home environment.
Children especially teenagers begin to play up and become truant for varied reasons; it is not only vulnerable ones, even those from supposedly stable homes can run away to join their peers on the streets.
In some cases, running away is a cry for attention and love that might be lacking which compels some children to leave the secure home environment for the dangerous and unpredictable street life.
It is critical for parents and guardians to take an interest and be aware of the problems and challenges young people encounter as they are growing up; most of young people have to deal with hormonal, behavioural and other changes. Parents and guardians should realise that it is not enough to only provide material needs of a child without addressing other equally important needs.
There is need for parents or guardians to approach their children, who might be having problems associated with the process of growing carefully and in a friendly manner; instead of alienating them. Many young people feel misunderstood; it is important the feelings and thoughts of young people are validated and this validation can only come from parents or guardians.
It is only through proper parenting during formative years that a number of street children will eventually reduce. Especially that some of the young people on the streets actually have a home to go to.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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