What you need to know:
- Social disability of unruly young people is weakening the strength of the future families and national leaders at large.
- While we can blame the harsh political climate in our country family values need to be interrogated.
- External factors like peer pressure and toxic political environment may also contribute towards children's crimes.
Unrest in schools has almost become a norm in the country. The most recent incident is the suspension of 258 boys, from Makueni High school after rioting, as a result of the directive given by their principal of shaving their hair. The rowdy students started throwing stones at the principal and injured him. Not long ago, the Cabinet Secretary for education, expressed alarm by the high rate of teenage pregnancy in the land and stated that moving forward, the chiefs would be answerable for such cases.
A social disability
Are our young people lacking drive for their future because of poor political leadership, school administration or are the family values dwindling on a day to day basis? Are parents so preoccupied with the growing demands of meeting the physical needs of the children that they have forgotten their emotional wellbeing? Are our children growing with a distorted view of what life is all about because of lack of aspiration contributed by weakened family values and unfortunate leadership goodwill? I am concerned about this social disability that is weakening the strength of the future families and national leaders at large.
Harsh political climate
While we can blame the harsh political climate in our country, where young people see so-called political leaders fighting one another, family values need to be interrogated.
External factors like peer pressure and toxic political environment may also contribute towards children's crimes. Studies have rated violence at home, unstable separated families, and poor parenting styles as the major cause of juvenile crimes. We need to know that home is the first place where the child learns how to interact with the world. Parents must maintain the discipline needed, while helping children make their own decision and face consequences of the same decision. Psychologists say that if values are not inculcated when the child is between 0-9 years, then it becomes very difficult for the child to pick values at a later stage in life.
The consistent use of severe punishment, can lead to permanent suppression of behaviour.
Don’t lose hope if you have cases of indiscipline teenagers around you. Don’t use punishment as a way of changing the behaviour of such teenagers. Less punishment and more positive social reinforcement of praise and love can serve best for behavioural change. The consistent use of severe punishment, can lead to permanent suppression of behaviour. In his book,Controlling the Difficult Adolescence, David Stein notes that, the application of severe punishment can lead to a child becoming nervous, tense and fearful. This will make an aggressive or abusive child not learn well and therefore learning behavioural change will be blocked. Such a teenager will continue making more mistakes and with time, it leads to more parental frustration, anger, and even more punishment. Continuous punishment will hinder effective communication between the parent and the teenager. A child growing up in a punitive environment, develops irrational coping mechanisms later in the teenage years and adulthood.
When you feel as though you are working on the same thing over and over again and your child is not changing, then a parent should build internal motivation. This will Fast-track the process of helping children towards maturity and responsibility. With internal motivation, the parent shares values and reasons behind the rules. This requires more discussion with the child helping him or her understand the rationale behind the parent's actions to develop cooperation. The approach is firm but relational. The main focus of the parent is to develop character, values, and conviction. Unfortunately, many caregivers use external motivators to get their kids to move forward. For instance, if you want me to buy you a smartphone, you must work hard to get a good grade in school. Dr Scott and Miller, founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting note that, this approach says ‘if you do what I say, I will give you what you want.’ Continual reliance on external motivation takes advantage of a child’s selfishness and exchanges a little gratification for desired behaviour. Children raised heavily on external motivation grow with a sense of entitlement.
Another area that may lead to teenage crimes is when children are faced with childhood trauma that is either caused by sexual abuse, parental neglect, or loss and violence. Crimes among teenagers are not a sudden occurrence but rather continued tendencies of abuse to the child or those around him or her. When children experience trauma and remain unattended or neglected, then abuse to self and others is foreseeable. Parents or caregivers need to address symptoms like withdrawal, uncontrollable anger, and frequent mood changes among others because these could be early signs of a child experiencing trauma. Aggressive and abusive behaviour is not a developmental stage that a child or adolescent will grow out of. Recovery from trauma has been empirically shown to benefit from parental or caregivers' positive attitude. Establishing a A A A good rapport with the teenagers has been shown to play a protective role both before, during, and after the trauma.