08 Nov Parents play a pivotal role in children’s education
A tidal wave of moral decadence has engulfed the entire country and many terrible things are happening, which were unheard of in the past.
“Man kills two infants to impress new lover; Two youths arrested for stabbing soldier and robbing him of valuables worth over $1 500; Man fatally stabs girlfriend; Man kills own father during cleansing ceremony; Robbers raid houses and burn owners’ buttocks with hot irons before fleeing with money, laptops and TVs; Violent woman pummels ex-lover at midnight; Thugs bash man to death with hoe handle, burn his body and dump his remains in a dam …”
These are some of the blood-chilling stories that have, over the past few weeks, dominated the front pages of local newspapers. The trend is so frightening in what it portends and ought to shake every responsible citizen of this country out of complacency to act now before the situation escalates out of control.
One would have thought that with violence in our communities being so much a part of everyday life, entertainment would provide an escape from the depressing situation. But this is hardly the case. Decadent soap operas being shown on television are exposing our children, especially youths, to violence in the very comfort of our own homes.
Youths today spend most of their time watching diverse forms of violence on television. These include civil wars, violent street protests, ethnic or racial strife, murders, muggings, rape, homosexuality and child abuse, to mention just a few.
The question that has been the subject of heated debate among many a psychiatrist is this: Does prolonged exposure to violence on television have adverse effect on human behaviour?
A report released by the US National Institute of Mental Health a few years ago showed there is overwhelming evidence that viewing excessive violence causes aggressive behaviour.
According to University of Illinois psychiatrist and research director for the National Coalition on Television Violence, Dr Thomas Radecki, in the late 1970s movies began to rely more and more on violence to maintain viewers’ interest. As viewers became jaded to each new level of savagery they saw on television, directors had to inject more terror into each new release to attract more and more viewers.
“The tragic result is that the average American child will have seen 200 000 violent acts on television, including 40 000 murders, by age 18,” said Dr Radecki.
Worryingly though, defenders of violent entertainment argue that viewing violence on television is quite harmless and actually prevents people from acting it out in real life.
This view is in conflict with a report from a South African magazine. Speaking specifically about television violence, the report noted: “Certainly, our addiction to violent entertainment seems to be instilling attitudes of aggression in some viewers,” reads the report in part.
It is crucially important to note that the evidence against using violence as a form of entertainment validates a vital point made in the Holy Bible, many years ago, concerning the connection between what is in a person’s mind and his/her actions. We find this in Proverbs 23:7, which says: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Mention must be made of the fact that society is today beset with a plethora of evils, which include child and spouse abuse, aggravated assault, rape, murder and so forth. In light of this, we need to seriously consider what we allow into our minds and character and what we devote our time to enjoying.
As parents/guardians, we have a moral obligation to assist our children make intelligent choices in entertainment.
“Parents and guardians should take particular interest in the movies their children watch on TV and the music they find enjoyable. This should be done, not from a negative, vindictive or condemning standpoint, but in an attitude of helpfulness in steering children in the right direction.
“Most TV films and the so-called popular music have one thing in common: they glamorise marital infidelity, alcoholism, rape, homosexuality, drug addiction and many other evils and are simply not good fare for entertainment,” said Father Alex Nhamoinesu, a Catholic priest.
The rising tide of violence and lawlessness among youths is not limited to Zimbabwe. It is also a serious problem in the UK.
A few years ago, the Daily Telegraph reported that acts of violence in Britain had almost doubled. In fact, today the situation in the UK, the US and other Western nations has assumed mind-boggling proportions.
Whether it is mugging, armed robbery, drug trafficking, assault, murder, terrorism or politically-motivated street protests, violence remains an increasingly frightening aspect of our time.
In light of the foregoing, is violence something that we should simply get used to and accept as a bewildering part of modern society?
There is consensus among law-enforcement officers, politicians, journalists, educators, philosophers and religionists that violence is corroding the moral fabric of the nation.
However, finding a way to stem the epidemic of violence and bringing peace in our homes and communities is proving to be a monumental hurdle.
The police in Zimbabwe must be commended for the good work they are doing in arresting and bringing to book perpetrators of violence and other unlawful activities. But more still needs to be done.
As I see it, the onus is now on us as a nation to cast our political, religious or ethnic differences aside; come together as one and identify the causes of juvenile delinquency in our beloved country for purposes of finding a lasting solution to the problem.
When one has a carbuncle, it is important to extricate the puss. What is, however, of greater significance is to establish what caused the infection in the first place.
It is the humble submission of the author of this instalment that the root cause of juvenile delinquency lies in the home, where children are born and nurtured. So the solution must come from there.
“Charity begins at home,” says an ancient English adage.
It seems clear, all things considered, that today we are witnessing an alarming decline in the moral and ethical standards of our youths and deterioration in the quality of education because parents no longer participate in the educational process.
Parents send their children to school beginning at age 5 or 6 then expect teachers to do everything for them in terms of educating their children. There is a basic flaw with this concept.
“Education is a process that begins at birth. Experts agree that the first few years of a child’s life lay the foundation for his/her future. Parents, not governments or schools are fundamentally responsible for the education of their children. Parents should realise that schools are only one element in the education of children.
“Parents should not wash their hands of responsibility for their children’s education. They either perform a positive function in their children’s education or by neglect, they set examples they may eventually come to regret,” said Mr Arnold Shava, a retired headmaster.
The Holy Bible consistently stresses the parental role in education — that parents are responsible for training their children. In respect of this, Proverbs 22 verse 6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
– Cuthbert Mavheko is a freelance journalist living in Bulawayo. Mobile number 0773 963 448; e-mail [email protected]