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Violence on children likely to affect their studies when schools reopen

By James Onyango | October 4th 2020

Arya Primary School candidates go through a copy of the Standard newspaper in their classroom. [File, Standard]

"Having a place to go is home. Having someone to love is a family. Having both is a blessing."  These are words of Donna Hedges but how daunting are they to children who have had an eerie brash with violence from people who are charged with the responsibility of providing care, love and protection to them? Research has shown that the period of Covid-19 has seen an upsurge of cases of domestic violence which has left families divided and children distressed.

Weeks ago, my heart bled when a middle-aged woman stuck in a family squabble, mercilessly drowned her children before taking a lethal leap into the very river - ending the life of the children and hers. Sadly, many families hinged on the brink of collapse use children as a shield. The single most important prop in a child's life is the family. From the moment they are born, children depend on parents and family for protection and their needs. What then could possibly push one into committing such abominable act?

President Kenyatta, speaking in a televised address to the nation a month ago underscored the importance of peace and harmony. He observed that "we must always remember that family is a projection of the State. If the family is under attack, the State is under attack, if the family is weak, the country is weak." Summarily, when families are torn asunder, children stand to suffer psychological distress and trauma.

Streets are oozing with urchins whose birth is surrogated by family feuds just as crime zones are a buzz with children from broken homes. Undeniably, teachers are likely to meet dejected and disillusioned children majority of whom might resort to unruliness, truancy or other weird misdemeanours as an escape from reality. 

Children will also come to school wrecked to the core by factors such as drugs, social media, HIV and the like, affecting negatively on their studies. Therefore the herculean task that awaits teachers upon resumption of schools is a concoction of nostalgia and rue given the frailty of the learners.

You walk into a classroom and meet learners immersed in reverie, but knowing how to deal with such learners is what makes a teacher stand out. Teachers should give learners ample time to adopt to the new changes, help them conform to the new guidelines and offer guidance and counselling to the learners from broken families, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. All take effort, dedication and heart. 

James Onyango, Teacher, Barding Boys High School, Siaya

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