HOW SAFE IS YOUR CHILD IN AN EAST AFRICAN SCHOOL?


 

SAFETY-NETWORK

The safety network has been used as a training tool for protecti:ve behaviors on body safety for a long time. As your child becomes older (3+) help them to identify their safety network.  The safety network is effective and fun to do with your child even at home. Basically you trace around a hand (an adult hand is a good idea as it is large), then on the fingers of the hand the child can write the names of people they can talk to if they felt unsafe or scared.. It should be people who will listen, believe and take appropriate action.
If you are doing this activity with your child, remember to guide them to include adults who are both male and female, someone in the home, people outside the home and people outside the family. A good mix of people in the safety network will mean your child has a range of people they know they can talk to about anything.

Watching Tabitha, my firstborn, threatening approaching a crossing line into a teen life in 3 years’ time, I panic. So my beautiful, delicate, innocent, naive little angel is about to leave me and venture into the wild world of the unknown? O God, with whom is she going to interact in the dark out there? I quipped, “Is she physically, psychologically and financially equipped enough for such an independence?

As a teacher myself, abd the one who has successfully passed through the maze and mess of that age from a frying pan to fire, say, from the life of a rebel child to that of an East African school, I feel worried of my daughters abd sons; and yours, too!

In order to take you through the 5 most likely risks your child has to pass through, let me give you a live example, since this blog series of ‘The Eased Africa I Want’ is a near testimony.

Your child will swim across three stages in the river or spring of knowledge through which s/he is looking for a gem. Let us call them the Pretty Preteen, the Innocent Adolescent and the Ardent Adultolescent rungs of your child’s physical, mental and academic growth. The last two stages take place when your child is fully outdoors, meaning beyond your watch! They will be at the mercy of their friends, teachers and other official or accidental strangers from whom they want the help that you send them and pay for.

I am not here to bore through the rubbish mountain of the life of the ‘teenies and tweenies’ (those at teen and twenties of age). We have lived through them to this stage of young parents.

To begin with, let me invert the pyramid from the university downwards. How safe or potentially successful is your child or will your child be through their university struggle? I begin with a real life testimony.

Three years ago, I shared a house with a young cousin, a late teenager who was already in his first year of the university in Nairobi. The boy began well. Alas, something went wrong and the other year he Facebooked a picture of himself dressed in a 5-piece military gear, posing on an army tank somewhere in the bushes of South Sudan. I asked a friend that told me the news, “He is a soldier in the National Security Service!” This boy had all the money he wanted in the world as his brothers abd mother are on top of salaried jobs in South Sudan and Australia. So why did he drop out? I know that you might do you research before you send you son or daughter there.

Did I call this a testimony before? Yes, the tragedy is even on me. I am also a university dropout, only that mine is the total opposite of the above? And it is a tale of its own day, good news is that my half time at Makerere and from those high schools in Uganda have prepared me enough to run a family and write articles on ‘adultolescent lessons’ as such, while on my way back to my last semester.

So what are the top dangers in East African or African universities? I have seen on some campuses orgy parties which are permitted by the authorities. One such campus is at my western neighbourhood here in Nairobi. Between 3pm and 3AM of every Thursday, students drink, dance and dash into their mixed hostels dragging each other, or even one another, in pairs!

Too much cash in a child’s pocket. You think you are being kind to your baby, or if it is a babe? The moment you fail to avail that weekly 100 dollars that you think, as s/he believes, is your their right, that is now turned into some sort of a ‘parental rental right’, you will read the names and pictures of your daughter under the headlines “South Sudanese ‘Black Gold’ Capture the Red Districts…” as it happens the other day in The Nairobian or The Red Pepper. If not your daughter, then your son shockingly trapped at the robbery scene on TV. This is real, baba or mama.

There is also this too much yoyo or dotcom culture robbing students of their valuable time for studies. Girls would watch the Kardashians or any other fictitious character the whole day, change their first names to Beyonce or so, and begin rehearsing those onscreen moves.

If not this, then the internet. Boys would also do practise their parts on such imaginary role models in such a way that you will be shocked to receive your son, graduated or deferred, slip-walking and sleep-talking or rapping the words you only hear with Tom and Jerry or on Nikelodeon. I hear they are musicians, artists or celebrities. All acted! And who will build our country? Engineers, project developers, teachers, doctors, etc., all to be imported as ‘expert expats’. Poor Africans!

And your daughter or son in a secondary school. Besides the books abd lesson times, where else do they go for their extra co-curricular activities? What do they spend their leisure times on? Who hangs out with them? Does the school have a well laid out, properly implemented, and well secured leisure environment? You can only ascertain this by being being a very inquisitive abd active PTA member. I say get involved in tge education ofvyour child all the way from your living room to their dormitory. Or else, you will only receive heart-attacking news of your loved young ones in the mass media like the Moi Girls’ parents the other day. My condolence again to the famiky of Gen. Malong Awan and all those aggrieved families in Kenya and other parts of East Africa over this chronic tragedy, school arsons.

I had to mention Gen. Malong specifically because he is one of the parents faced with a triple tragedy. Imagine one old man receiving news of one daughter charred beyond recognition in a dorm fire, the other fighting for her life in hospital; all these he is under a political detention from which he cannot disentanglehimself fir even a trip from Juba to Nairobi to give a DNA sample in order to retrieve the remains of her beloved Alakiir for a decent burial!

As if that is not enough, as the African saying puts it, a disaster strikes in company of her children, this leading parent of South Sudan received the above news simultaneously with the breaking news of his being put under sanction by the United States of America. These three things: sanction, detention and death can break the strongest of the men born by a woman.

Therefore, the reason of dwelling on this is how children’s dangers can endanger the life of the whole family. Imagine that parent who collapses and dies on hearing such abrupt news. Choose your child’s school or swimming pool wisely. I mean, again, as a parent, the more you get involved in the safety of your children’s day-to-day engagements, the less you get involved their resultant risks.

I would not dwell much on the preteen life and security because at this stage, the toddlers are still loving under your roof. However, I have to add a caution: never send your pretty preteens to a boarding school. They will know know your, your father’s name, your nationality or ethnicity, and above all, your mother tongue. Did i just say above all? Oh, above all else, your children who spend the whole of their primary school life in a boarding school will get spoiled from thebparental and peer guidance of that school community  My dear, share the modelling of the future of your seedlings with good mentors. They are what you are, abd vice versa.

Last but not least, from my experience and research as a member of Straight Talk Club in Gulu High School in 1999, peer pressure and influence is the leading role among those vices of lives that take our children astray.

From the same experience, I have to put most of the waylaying traps that make our children wayward in the following summary. It is all enveloped in substance abuse and sex abuse.

With substance abuse, the two dominant ones are alcoholism and drug addiction. Drugs are abused im many ways to achieve temporary relief of the addiction-related symptoms. No need elaborating from this stage.

On sex abuse, we use to list and study such practices 10 years ago, which we thought were too wild and foreign, but today, they taking place in our schools abd communities. They range from the mild one called fornication (sex before marriage) to adultery (sex outside of wedlock).

The extreme forms of such abuse are exhibited in homosexuality (same sex), masturbation (self-sex), oral sex, bestiality (sex with beasts or animals), voyeurism (sex by eavesdropping), pornography (sex by photography), prostitution (sex for sale) and the like. Other extreme and violent abuses include rape (sex by force), defilement (sex on children), paedophile (sex on babies), and forced or early marriage.

For your information, as I type this sentence, I am being informed that Australian government is considering mass deportation of South Sudanese children who have succumbed to such addictions. It is not only in Australia that our future is wasting away, it is the whole of diaspora, including the immediate neighbourhood like East Africa from where I am now doing my parenting.

Also at the same time, I am discussing with some parents ways of relocating their spoiled ones from South Sudan prisons to Kenyan rehabilitation centres. Do you see this? Our addicts are not admitted in rehab or health centres, they are arrested and imprisoned unilaterally and para-legally by frustrated parents. By cramming them into detention cells (not reformatory dormitories) together with murderers, addicts, rebels, rapists, political detainees, lunatics, etc., you think they are going to recover into good citizens for the future of this nascent nation?

This question made my friend, David Dut Aboor, himself a parent working in South Sudan but with his family next to mine n Nairobi, think aloud, thus, on his way back to Juba from a foreign trip.

John, what can we do to save our country’s future from destitution and mass addiction? We brained andbon the second dsy cameout with an organization called ‘ORFUNDS’, which stands for, in short, ‘Orphans Rehabilitation Funds’, or in full, Organization for the Rehabilitation, Fortification of the Urchins, Needy, Destitute and Solitary (Orfunds) children of South Sudan. Even before Dut registers it, his hands are already full with such cases. So, as a South Sudan parent or parent-to be, what are you doing to save our future from the war effects?

The parting question again: how safe are your children in foreign schools?

So help us God!

 

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