Editor's Comment

Parental control critical to child upbringing

Pupils in class.

EACH time examination results are announced, there are mixed reactions from the Ministry of General Education, civil society, parents and members of the public.
The Ministry of Education gives an overview of the standards, teacher-pupil ratio, as well as the availability of education materials in coming up with answers to the performance of pupils for that particular year.
Civil society also provides its own position while the general public points the barrel at teachers for being responsible for the poor results.
Parents and the communities where pupils come from will never take an introspection on why their children and dependants produce good results.
Some parents and guardians have little time for their children and this has a bearing on not only their academic performance but also their upbringing.
And such behaviour may be as a result of children taking alcohol and general substance abuse.
This could be the case in Livingstone where over 50 children aged between 13 and 16 years were on Saturday nabbed by the police for alcohol consumption.
Southern Province Police Commissioner Diamond Likasi said the police has been receiving information that children have been indulging in the consumption of different alcoholic substances on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Livingstone incident is very unfortunate because it borders on the moral depravity of the families and the communities where the children hail from.
It also speaks volumes about lack of effective parental control and regulatory oversight by the Livingstone City Council.
Ordinarily, council police are supposed to be patrolling these areas, especially during weekends.
While it is the responsibility of the council police to be conducting patrols, they may not be able to be everywhere given the size of some districts.
It is practically impossible for council police to cover the breadth and width of the areas of their jurisdiction.
The buck, therefore, falls on the parents and community members to supplement the efforts of the local authorities.
Community members should never abrogate their responsibility of being their children’s or dependants’ neighbours.
Previously, parents and guardians used to be responsible for all the children who lived in their neighbourhood, went with them to church or indeed who attended school with their children.
It is unfortunately no longer the same as families are looking at their own interests and would by-pass a child from the neighbourhood even when they find them engaging in illicit activities such as smoking or drinking.
It should also be the responsibility of bar owners, supermarket attendants or indeed barmen to refuse to sell alcohol to underage patrons.
It is a pity that pupils will invest their time in drinking binges instead of spending time studying either school books or the Bible.
But it could be that the children have no role models either in their families or communities. Or their role models are drunkards.
Lack of recreational facilities in the country is also leading to children between 13 and 16 taking to alcohol and other substances.
Gone are the days when young people were kept busy in recreational facilities. But most open spaces have been taken up by developers, some illegally.
While development is good, it should not deprive community members of their right to recreation.
In fact, local authorities should always be alert to ensure that developers of certain infrastructure such as shopping malls factor in critical recreational facilities for the members of the communities in which they invest.
Local authorities should be advocating for mixed use infrastructure which embeds recreational facilities such as swimming pools, tennis, basketball or squash courts.
Such facilities will not only help our children become active during weekends but may also be platforms for talent tapping.

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