Children and Youth is a non-profit organisation 

By Lydia Atieno

Raising a child with proper manners takes effort. With today’s society dripping with temptation almost everywhere, establishing a morally upright background can be tough.

Going by this, ‘Children and Youth’ will launch Rwanda student’s lifestyle at Amahoro National Stadium this week with the aim of helping high school and university students fight bad vices such as drug abuse, transmission of HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.

Children and Youth is a non-profit organisation with vocational programmes that help children between the age of five and 18 explore their talent in sports.

The youth should be encourged to stay away from vices such as drinking alcohol. Net photo.

Through sports, students are brought together to interact and discuss these issues.

Educators have a big role to play

Silvia Mahoro, a youth mentor and counsellor, says some vulnerable students may resort to risky behaviour to get necessities.

Mahoro says there is also lack of psychosocial guidance programmes in many schools and that although every educator is supposed to provide that support, not everyone is willing to provide it.

She believes the media also has a role to play in this.

“Sometimes what is exposed by the media makes young people curious to experience and indulge in,” she says.

Omer Mayobere, a psychologist at Caring for Impact Ministries (CIM), an NGO that promotes life in all its fullness among the youth, notes that most of the time, youth engage in dangerous activities due to factors such as family conflict, poverty, absence of parents to provide love, care and affection or a result of inter-generational issues from parents.

He is of the view that for this to be handled, educators should be trained first for them to understand why the youth get into such vices in the first place. He believes if they are equipped with enough knowledge, the youth will be given the right education on the effects of drug use not only as a disciplinary issue, but as a vice that has serious repercussions.

Educators on the other hand must have knowledge on human development, especially an understanding about teenage hood, Mayobere says. This, he says, will help them understand the world of the youth, change their attitude towards them, and provide approaches to use and deal with the issue of bad influence.

He advises educators to create weekly, monthly or quarterly dialogues, where different themes can be developed centred on the causes or effects of drug abuse. This will help students invent their own solutions, he says.

“This must be a participatory platform where educators create a conducive atmosphere to help students feel free to share their ideas. This will help them engage in fighting such vices,” Mayobere says.

According to Nelson Mukasa, Executive Director of Children and Youth, educators should encourage students to take vows or sign a social contract between themselves to fight against the issues affecting them. This can be done between schools and the Government, as it will help set a self-regulating mechanism on the prevention of such issues.

He says this must be a learning process to encourage ownership, adding that schools must have some campaigns using people who have overcome the vices to share their stories and learn from them.

When it comes to GBV, Mayobere says it’s ideal for teachers to be trained in gender sensitive approaches with emphasis on positive masculinity; this means that they (teachers) must have a structure on how to address these issues, and students on the other hand must have accountability.

Sylvester Twizerimana, a psychologist, says schools must schedule GBV dialogues in class in order to empower each and every student, in a way that students own the issue and implement creative resolutions.

He says many educators have little knowledge on these topics yet in some cases they are the ones suspected to misbehave, especially with GBV and risks related to HIV transmission.

“There is a gap in communication between parents and students, it is hard for young people to get into deep conversations on these issues with their parents because parents may not be knowledgeable, or their attitude is always tough disciplinary measures,” he says.

This makes children distant from their parents, yet they are supposed to get advice and help from schools as well as home, he adds.

Call for awareness

Aflodis Kagaba, the executive director of Health Development Initiative (HDI), says one of the main challenges when it comes to fighting such issues is that many youngsters are not aware of them or even the dangers associated with them.

He says there is an increase in drug use in the country with the youth ranking at the top.

According to statistics from Kigali Health Institute, more than half the youth in the country (14 to 35) have consumed one or more kinds of drugs.

Research shows that overall lifetime prevalence rate for substance use among the Rwandan youth is 52.5 per cent.

Kagaba, therefore, says if the youth are not educated on the dangers of drugs, the number will likely increase because a big number of them are idle and unemployed; thus resorting to abusing drugs, leading to other vices.

He says because the youth are at times lured to these vices as a result of stress or peer influence, there is need to come up with mechanisms at the community level to help address the issue.

He also points out that educators should provide right and accurate information on the dangers.

“The main aim of creating this awareness is to prevent them from abusing, but at the same time, those who are addicted need to be supported mentally and psychologically and helped to quit the vice.”

Kagaba believes that sporting is important because it attracts many, making it easy to pass information.

He says through sports, the youth are able to understand such issues. It also helps them reach out to their peers.

“When they are aware, they will most likely abstain from these vices, including drugs and sexual activity, thus avoiding unwanted pregnancies, HIV and other infections,” he says.

Kagaba adds that the most important aspect is that awareness through sports can encourage the youth to share and talk about the dangers of these vices, which is helpful as far as abstinence is concerned.

Kagaba also says that young people should be encouraged to take part in prevention measures, especially boys who are more likely to be the perpetrators of GBV.

Source The New Times

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