Moral degeneration has been identified as the main causes for ill-discipline among the youth.
This was said during the commemoration of youth month to an audience of mostly school children at Altrec Sports Complex. Speakers from Joburg City Council, South African Police Services and non-profit organisations attributed the challenge to social ills, they said have been allowed to compound over the years with a lack of appropriate intervention strategies.
According to Velisha Thompson of the City of Johannesburg, due to the lack of proper plans for intervention, many children are vulnerable to ills such as teenage pregnancy which occur in girls as young as 13, substance abuse and crime. “Parents are silent, don’t communicate and don’t provide good advice to children. They leave them preoccupied with social media over important activities like studies, sports, culture and other positive engagements. It [social media] exploits their immaturity leading to uninformed decisions that expose them to risks like child trafficking.”
She added that teachers were also disempowered and threatened in the classrooms by ill-disciplined children from homes where parents claim not to have time for them as they return late from work. “There is an urgent need for parents and all role players to have a daily culture of involvement in children’s lives.”
Operations manager of the City’s Department of Social Development, Maki Madolo urged for an integrated approach to dealing with ill-discipline in keeping with uBuntu principle which says it takes a village to raise a child. “It should be a concerted daily effort and not left to once off celebratory moments like June 16.
“Children should be made aware that their rights are equal in importance with the responsibilities expected of them by society,” Madolo said in reference to reports of substance abuse, possession of dangerous weapons and absenteeism from school.
She blamed social media and the information age as, according to her, this bombards children with inappropriate information leaving them confused and unable to restrain themselves from temptations to sex which often lead to sexually transmitted diseases. “It makes them vulnerable to peer pressure which is compounded by crowded living conditions which expose them to the private sexual conduct of adults.”
Madolo urged for impact assessment studies to be done to inform the integrated intervention approach.
Thabiso Pitsoane of youth non-profit organisation Vuka Skhokho, attributed the challenge to the absence of dialogue between and among the youth and adults. “Bonding should be encouraged from an early age to make children not to fear but want to look up to all adults for good advice.”
His organisation’s work is centred on dialogue, life skills and holiday programmes to inculcate positive attitudes and citizenship in the youth and keep them off the streets. “Education is the only way out of mischief. It helps children to distinguish right from wrong unlike being told ‘no’ all the time. It teaches them to aspire and set goals and to desist from temptations to sexual and substance abuse.
“Youth organisations are an appropriate medium for them as they listen intently, particularly to advice on the consequences of crime from our members who are rehabilitated ex-offenders and drug addicts.”
Pitsoane would like to see all youth organisations strengthened and more internships and after-school programmes made available which in turn should help keep youngsters from loitering on the streets.
Details: Vuka Skhokho 071 124 3423.