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Deranged adults leading teenagers astray

OPINION
By Cosmas Butunyi | November 30th 2020

Teenagers are running amok, and adults are squarely to blame. These badly behaved adults appear to be the catalysts to the young, inexperienced minds going wayward.

Remember the teenage girls of Komarock, who apparently sneaked from home in search of fun (whatever that means), because the COVID-19 induced cabin fever was getting to them? Word has it that at this supposed fun place, they were being hosted by some sick, exploitative adults who belong behind bars.

There are also the illegal parties for kids of school-going age that cops lately keep busting across the country. From Nairobi to Kisii and Bungoma, the plot is spookily similar in each of these busts. Tens of teenagers are cooped up in a house bash, awash with condoms, alcohol and drugs. In each of these illegal parties, the school kids are hosted by errant adults, who oversee shooting of porn videos, binge drinking, sex orgies and all sorts of sickening activities.

Then there are the Tana River triplets, all unfortunately defiled and put in the family way by an adult, male farmhand. An adult presumably of sound mind led them astray, not to mention the grave danger he exposed them to form of STIs and the fact that their young bodies could not handle multiple pregnancies.

The common thread in all these cases is schoolchildren forced to stay at home by the pandemic being led astray by grown adults. Who is behaving like a child here?

Yet, everything else will be blamed – advertisements on television, peer pressure and everything else in between. Moral police will walk around with a tongue-lashing at the ready for those who air age-inappropriate content. Forgetting that the ‘appropriately-aged’ are actually the conduit of this stuff to the children – the plug, as they are often called.

Cigarette manufacturers will be required to put up graphic warnings on the packaging, proclaiming that it is ‘not for sale for persons under the age of 18’. Watershed programming rules will be strictly enforced for alcohol advertisements on television. Bars will swiftly bar anyone who appears underage from entering. Of course, all these safeguards and protocols are well-intended and fully deserved to shield the young minds. It is only that they are not fool-proof and sufficient on their own. A weak link still exists in the form of breathing humans roaming around.

There is a dangerous breed of badly-behaved adults on the prowl. For whatever evil machinations of their own, they have no qualms leading children astray. Neither does it prick their conscience. How selfishly evil can humans get!

That these adults are preying on young, impressionable and gullible minds that are inexperienced in the ways of the world should be huge cause for worry for our society. Even more worrying is that experts warn that some of these habits when started young could be difficult to shake off.

A recent Food and Drug Law Institute heard that use of tobacco is mostly established in adolescence and age of initiation plays a significant role in progression from experimentation to regular use. Experts at the conference also warned that the teen’s developing brain is more likely to get addicted, besides reducing their ability to quit, while increasing the amounts they consume. Studies have also found that more than 90 per cent of tobacco-dependent individuals started before they turned 18 years. Just serves to show why these habits are dangerous to the young brains.

Remember, unlike peer pressure which they might be able to navigate a lot more easily, pressure from adults that they consider role models may seem irresistible to the young minds, causing them to believe without questioning, to their detriment. The more reason adult influence is lethal.

Thus calls for a holistic approach in tackling substance abuse and other habits among these teens. Even as we regulate how these things are marketed in a way that does not appeal to them, let us also think of how to deal with these characters who may end up bringing all this to naught. Adults can be a force for good; this needs to be harnessed.

For these other adults, a new way of dealing with them needs to be found. It will serve as a deterrent to others who seek to negatively influence teens.

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