Rise of ‘harmful activities’ by school children has stakeholders scrambling for lasting solutions

The August holidays are here once again, a time when the children are all home and eager to take their well-deserved rest from a long and tiresome school term.

During this period, parents and guardians battle with the thoughts of how to keep their children busy and occupied so as to prevent them from engaging in harmful activities such as drug and substance abuse, engaging in early sexual activities among other vices that may contribute to social ills in society.

Just last week, police in Nairobi arrested 10 pupils of Dhawabu Primary School who were found engaging in a sex orgy. This incident committed by primary school children is raising concern about the deteriorating discipline among children of today’s generation.

“This has nothing to do with the teachers since it was off school premises and as a parent one should know the whereabouts of his or her child,” lamented one parent.

“We should not blame the teachers nor the parents since most parents are out working to better the lives of their children and the school cannot escort them to their homes. It’s just a breakdown in the society caused by lack of morals. Bt the parent should cooperate with the school to curb this menace,” added Joyce Kamau.

Besides engaging in sex orgies, there have been cases of children and teenagers who are caught abusing drugs and other substances.

This has been a cause of concern not only among parents but also teachers, educationists, the government, church leaders and other non-governmental organisations who have teamed up on several occasions to find a lasting solution to it.

And now that the August holidays are here with us, parents are a worried lot. Though many may not know what their children are usually up to while in school and even during holidays, there is every reason to show concern and ensure that children do not end up getting involved in vices that will put a halt to a bright future that they are trying to build.

“It is not only when the schools close that there is a problem. Even when a school term begins, many students attempt to beat the system by smuggling drugs and alcohol into schools,” says a high school teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He adds: “Even as most parents prepare to take their children to school when a term begins, few bother to know what their children pack, or worse still, facilitate their children to pack illegal items to school.”

Whereas some parents do the shopping for their children and help them pack their bags, others do not care.

“Sometimes it becomes hard as a parent to monitor your children especially if they are grown up and into their teenage years. However, as a parent with two teenage boys in high school, I try my best to monitor their progress and ensure that they do not end up into habits such as abusing drugs and alcohol,” says Mary Wanja, a mother of three.

Although most schools conduct searches on opening day, most students still beat the system.

They are introduced to drugs and alcohol through many ways including peer pressure, the desire to experiment, cheap and accessible drugs and alcohol, the environment both at home and school, poor role models from parents among other factors.

Now that they have free time on their hands, it is important for parents to find what activities their children can engage in to keep them busy.

Different churches do plan for different activities to suit young children and teenagers during school holidays. These ranges from bible studies, camps, mentorship sessions and other social activities such as acting plays, fashion shows and even swimming contests.

Christ is The Answer Ministries (CITAM) has organized DVBS August 2018 at all its Citam Assemblies from 13th to 17th August. This will target children between the ages of 3 and 14 and will include activities such as bible lessons, games, puppetry, memory verse, watching movies, song and dance. What a refreshing way to keep the kids busy.

On the other hand, parents could also look out for organizations that will organize for camps which they can send their children to for some time.

Getting out and about in an organized and safe environment such as a camp is a thrilling and fun experience for the kids to have. They get to meet other kids of their age and learn how to socialize while having a good time away from home. Not only does their being away from home give them a new sense of independence and responsibility, it also gives the parents a little time to do things they enjoy as well.  Rapid’s Camp Sagana offers summer and holiday camps that train the youth in life skills as well as giving them fun activities like river trekking, bungee jumping, white water rafting and fishing.

On the other hand, parents can take their children to visit and spend time with their grandparents and other relatives in the countryside.

By spending time with their grandparents, they learn and understand their culture better, know their history and get to see life from a different perspective.

Those are just a few ideas of how the kids can spend their holiday time. However, is important to remember that the time the children spend with their own parents is the most important. Youth can never lack something new to learn from their parents. It allows the parents to know and understand their children and vice versa. Spending time together over the holiday season will keep the family close and strengthen those important bonds.

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