The Covid-19 pandemic has brought devastation not only to Kenya, but also to every corner of the globe. Learning institutions, places of worship, market centres and other public places have been shut down to reduce spread of the virus.
As the pandemic rages, one issue that is of major concern to parents and the Kenyan government, apart from the rising coronavirus infections, is the welfare of school children, and especially teenagers.
During this period when young people like myself have been forced by circumstances to stay at home, we have heard reports of hundreds of teenage pregnancies and of youths turning to drugs, among other ills. The big question that we are all asking is: “What should be done about the children?”
Places where new (bad behaviour) ‘convicts’ are made include video dens, cyber cafes and play station shops. The worst part is that these entertainment joints are all around our neighbourhoods.
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For now, children have a lot of free time to visit these places and it is sometimes difficult to stop them from doing so since parents usually have busy schedules to provide for the family. But this should change.
The first thing that should be done to save teenagers from falling into dangerous traps is to give them advice. This may not happen for some of the youths since some parents are either not good advisers, are not available to advise their children, are not willing to advise them, or the children just won’t listen.
But it is worth trying. It is good to talk to your children about things they face in life such as peer pressure. In fact, peer pressure is one thing that makes children to go astray. It is also good to advice children not to doubt themselves and not to necessarily do everything their friends do.
They should be advised to choose their friends wisely as not all of them are there to help them in life. It is good that they choose friends who will add value to their lives.
Secondly, it is also important to teach children the consequences of abusing drugs. They should be made aware that drugs cannot be beneficial to them in any way. Parents may also negatively influence their children if they engage in irresponsible behaviour.
Some children tend to do what their parents do and it is therefore advisable for parents to abstain from behaviour that may affect the children negatively. For example, coming home drunk is a bad habit and may make the child think that drugs are not bad after all since his/her parents use them.
Another important measure that parents can take is to spend quality time with their children and to show them the love and affection they need. If this is not done, the children will seek it elsewhere. This may lead to children engaging in premature sexual relationships in order to acquire the love and affection they are not getting at home.
It is also crucial to teach them the consequences of engaging in sexual relationships at an early age. Not only can they get underage or teenage pregnancies, but they can also contract diseases such as HIV and Aids.
It is advisable to teach children about religion. They should be taught good morals which go hand in hand with upright behaviour. Anyone who fears the Lord cannot dishonour their bodies because they are well aware that they are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Encourage children to pray, read the Bible daily (for Christians) or any religious book (as the case may be) and engage in religious activities. This will play a crucial part in ensuring that they are upright morally. Growing spiritually is also growing mentally and can therefore aid children in making the right decisions in life through critical thinking.
Last but not least, keep your children busy since an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. This can be done by giving them house chores, encouraging them to study and helping them when the need arises. Children can also be engaged by helping them to develop their talents and also to discover their hobbies. This will ensure they won’t engage in behaviour that could lead them to regret later in life.
These are just but some tips to keep children engaged during this pandemic as they await for schools to be reopened. These tips will also help in bringing up a learned and upright generation. My fellow children, stay home, stay safe.
Ms Mukami is a Form One student at St Francis Girls High School, Mang’u