“The Child is Father of the Man” as the great poet William Wordsworth said more than 200 years ago. No child is born wicked or a bully. These are learned from different environments in which he grows, the home being the most important.
While it is good to put mechanisms in place to deal with bad behaviour, these are merely symptoms of a breakdown in society and family life, in which the Government and religious institutions have key roles. How many churches, mosques, temples and houses of worship spend time on parenting and problems facing children and young people?
The home is where a child should find love, happiness, security, guidance and hope. How many homes have both parents working, far less a working single parent? How many employers allow flexitime where a parent can work the given number of hours but still be at home when their child returns from school?
How many employers allow telecommuting where a parent can work from home that enables her to be with her children for longer periods? Where are the sporting facilities for children? What is the Government doing about legislation for these or even considering implementing same? Must employment be strictly clinical and not have a social element?
Where are the social workers in work places and schools to assist parents and children? How many employers have social programmes and training for their employees? All schools have hundreds of students, but how many have even one social worker? When a child is suspended, is there a remedial programme to prevent recurrence? How much of a school’s curriculum deals with social values, proper behaviour and mannerisms?
The Ministry of Education must work with the Ministry of National Security to have a police officer speak with students in all primary and secondary schools, at the beginning of every term, on the demerits of bad behaviour and a life of crime. Greater value will be added if a former criminal can partner with the officer when speaking at the schools. This will certainly caution those who are disrespectful of authority, at home or other, or thinking of becoming “bad boys”.
The Ministry of Education must also work with the Ministry of Social Development and other similar organisations to have at least one social worker in every school and at least one class per week that deals with children, youth and family life. Churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship should have at least one discourse on family life every month.
Children and youth are confused with many wrong signals that emanate from adults, especially those in leadership positions, including politicians, parents, senior officers in organisations and the media, which is a great influencer.
As adults, let us not “wash our hands” off the challenges of children and youth. We must provide guidance and not discount or disqualify them precipitately. How mature are we in appreciating that children are born pure and innocent and not wicked or aggressive?