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Drunk and disorderly primary school learners: Between parents, teachers and the alcohol vendor, who is to blame?

By Clay Muganda | September 5th 2021

A few days ago, it was reported that Standard Six and Seven pupils of a primary school in Trans Nzoia got drunk, and disorderly, during their lunch break. Subsequently, two of them were arrested while the rest outran the police officers.

Questions will be raised over who is to blame, and fingers will be pointed but we may get answers, or more questions, from history.

Many years ago, there was this talk that it is parents who expose their children to alcohol, when they are still in primary school.

That thought process was informed by the fact that many pubs in urban areas were marketing themselves as joints where families could go and wind down during the weekends.

Sections of these joints were reserved for children, in a way, because they were playgrounds. But when it came to drinks and meals, they had to join their elders in the common area where there were people who were already drunk and disorderly. It was argued then, that parents who have exposed their children to such places, should not complain when their progeny turn to drinking early in their lives.

Even though that opinion was popular, not everyone agreed with it, but in the process of a national conversation about underage drinking, some ground rules were laid.

One of the rules was that establishments dealing in alcohol and tobacco products were not to be near schools. Such bylaws are never easy to enforce, and more so in rural areas where alcohol selling dens are ancestral homes some of which share fences with schools.

In the Trans Nzoia case, the woman who sold the pupils the alcohol and bhang, lives just 600m from the school. Should she consider the age of her customers? Should the local administration, chiefs et al, be blamed for allowing her to sell illicit brew? Should the teachers be held responsible for not teaching the young ones about the dangers of underage drinking, or the blame falls back on the parents? 

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