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To end shocking indiscipline, we must listen to our children more

By Sharon Tanui | November 23rd 2021

A burning dormitory at Kakamega High School [Benard Lusigi, Standard]

Students went home for half-term last Friday.

This is supposed to give them a break, but the truth is that they came home with a lot of assignments that are due when they go back to school. In three or four days, they are supposed to be ready for examinations, in addition to the assignments given. Mind you, the pressure to perform is not optional, yet we wonder why students are burning schools. It begs the question, who is to blame for this menace? No matter what, parents should understand that their children’s welfare comes first, and the kids need their love.

Since change is inevitable, the method of raising children should be adjusted. The use of the cane is relative. It may work on some kids and fail on others. Remember corporal punishment stirs anger in students, hence they express their anger by burning school property. It is no wonder that some students even get to the point of beating up their teachers. They are exhausted and do not have a better way of expressing their grievances to school administrations and the government. Telling their parents about issues at school is even worse as some parents regard their children as stress-triggers.

This explains why some students are ‘dumped’ into boarding schools from a very young age. In some schools, guidance and counselling are offered although career-related. These services are offered by teachers, some of whom are not trained to counsel students. A student may confide in these counsellors over sensitive information, yet their issues may not be handled with discretion as expected.

What this kind of betrayal does to a student is it further lowers their self-esteem, especially if their sensitive information was shared to fellow students and teachers. They might even be bullied and go into depression, keeping in mind that mental health is not really taken seriously in high school. They are in the proverbial jungle scrambling for the ‘best’. It’s all about survival for the fittest.

Students express their deep-seated issues in many ways. We ought to pay attention and look at methods that have worked before and those that have failed. Let us learn to listen to these kids if we really want to see positive changes in them. We cannot blame puberty for this behaviours. Yes, hormonal changes take place a lot during this stage and that means that we ought to tame them by reasoning together.

Have you ever tried talking to your child about their needs without being judgmental? What was their reaction? Were they able to easily open up to you? It takes understanding and willing hearts to effect change in these children. That is how therapy partly works. If we can change how we speak to one another at home, the change will be realised in school too.

Remember that children observe and mimic what they see at home. If they come from a violent home, chances are they will be violent in school. The role of parents should not be a puzzle left for teachers to solve. A class of 40 students is enough stress for one teacher. Therefore, let us appreciate the adage that it takes a village to raise a child effectively. Lastly, the Ministry of Education should consider extending holidays and half-terms for students.  

Ms Tanui is a Journalist.

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