Indiscipline among youth at an alarming rate

Written By Jane Njeri Thuo

The recent incident in which police arrested 35 students caught smoking bhang and having sex inside a bus is a harrowing example of an entrenched problem that requires urgent attention.

When young people get ensnared in the trap of substance abuse, a significant percentage of the work force becomes less productive, which hampers the country’s economic progress.

Kenyans must ask themselves hard questions and seek a speedy solution to drug abuse and growing indiscipline among youth.

A section of the elder generation has suggested that the ban on corporal punishment in schools is largely to blame for indiscipline. But times have changed and parents must find new and less brutal ways of bringing up their children.

 Reports of young lives being destroyed by alcohol and drugs are rampant. The young, and particularly students, are especially vulnerable to the vice owing to peer pressure, media influence, and poor guidance both at home and in society.

 It is a sad script replayed in almost every village in this country, where young people – who previously stood out in academic excellence – have drenched their future with alcohol.

Alcohol and drug abuse are a glaring problem that needs to be uprooted right from the family tree. There is no better time to do this than ensuring parents are proactive in the lives of their children.

 Parents rarely spend quality time with their children. The situation gets worse when parents imagine that teachers, who are mainly tasked with teaching and maintaining student discipline at school – can also play parenting roles.

 A 2012 study by the National Authority for Campaign against Drug Abuse (Nacada) revealed that substance abuse among Kenyan youth is on the rise. According to the report, the use of alcohol and drugs is a strategy used by young people to cope with problems such as unemployment, neglect, violence, sexual abuse and poor academic performance.  

Most parents and religious institutions do not have proper structures for young people to seek advice to overcome the challenges they face. Eventually, children turn to television sets and their peers who most of the times cause them to stray.

Young people lack role models - this is the painful truth is that Kenya seems to celebrate people who engage in corruption and other vices, reinforcing the problem among youth. This lack drives young people to engage in vice and to join gangs.

There is a need for parents to go back to the drawing board, and start addressing their children’s discipline afresh. A behavioural audit of what they are doing that is negative will help to identify a child’s discipline needs, its causes and what can be to keep each child on track.

In as much as parents blame teachers for their children indiscipline, the national teacher training education curriculum does not equip teachers for counseling roles. Only a few schools have trained guidance and counseling teachers.

School administrators should also strengthen the guidance and counseling departments to ensure learner’s concerns are handled professionally. This will encourage more learners to seek advice.

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