By Confidente Reporter
AT LEAST 20 percent of school going children aged between 13 and 16 consume alcohol at a high rate daily, 50 percent have tried alcohol while 17 percent cannot stop abusing liquor according to social workers from the ministries of health and that of gender and child welfare.
It is also reported that 22 percent of learners who abuse alcohol bunk school while another 22 percent engaged in regrettable actions as a result of being heavily intoxicated.
The social workers were addressing a group of school learners and parents during a dialogue organised by Rights for Respect (R4R) on the day of the Namibian child in Windhoek recently. The dialogue sought to discuss and find solutions to social ills affecting children including teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse and exploitation as well as substance abuse.
Leigh-Ann Black, a social worker at the health ministry said that the statistics are based on a recent study to gauge alcohol and substance abuse by school going children. She also said that the youngest person she counselled was 13 years-old and the oldest was 82.
Pointing out a case she has also dealt with, Black said that a father indicated he was fine with his teenager using marijuana and not rock drugs because apparently weed makes people calm.
“These are some of the social ills affecting our children in society today and we need to work together to bring an end to it,” Black said.
Activist and founder of Omayambeko Hope Foundation, Pujatura Kaveterua spoke about teenage pregnancy stressing that parents should acknowledge that children are sexually active at as young as nine years-old and should rather advise them to be sexually responsible.
“Do not keep talks of sexuality out of the house. It is critical to talk about sexuality and expose children to condoms. By giving them condoms you are not encouraging them to have sex but you are teaching them to be responsible. We need to prepare our children for teenage hood. They are growing up and have the urge to do things because of feelings, they see things on TV and the internet and if we do not talk to them about these things, they will learn about it from the likes of Facebook, the internet, magazines and movies they are exposed to on a daily basis,” Kaveterua explained.
Kaveterua emphasised that children were sexually active making reference to recent startling statistics by the United Nations that revealed that at least 127 girls in the country fall pregnant every day.
“Those are 127 dreams down the drain. Let us not wait for situations to get worse in order for us as parents to act. Let us groom our children so that they know that their bodies are their own and that they can say no. We need to face the music and understand that if a girl is pregnant at 13 years-old, it means they have been having sex at as young as nine years-old. Let us have relationships with our children and know what they are up to. Let us not only give rules, we should also explain why they should not do certain things. Keeping quiet is making matters worse,” Kaveterua said.
Meanwhile, Elize de Wee from the gender and child welfare ministry said cases of perpetrators grooming children to be sexually active are on the rise but that community covers up such actions.
“Children should know that it is not normal for any person to inappropriately touch them. This is the way that perpetrators groom our children making them comfortable and eventually having sexual intercourse with them.
This is easy for perpetrators because children have access to the internet. Such people need to be removed from society. As society we need to start again because damage done to a six year-old cannot be undone. Children that are abused become abusers themselves. We had a case of a 14 year-old who sodomised a 10 year-old. Who do we blame?”
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