Bad parenting fuels juvenile delinquency

Sunday Mail

WHAT happened to good parenting?

Many people are curious about this issue in the wake of incidents where young people are found in violation of the law.

Recently, minors, some as young as 13, were captured on camera guzzling alcohol in the Harare Central Business District on Christmas Day.

Some few days later, young girls were also filmed while drinking beer in Murewa, Mashonaland East province.

Such cases among young people are on the increase countrywide.

Last year, eight learners were expelled from Dominican Convent High School in Harare for drug abuse.

Ordinary people, religious leaders, social workers and psychologists, among other experts, are attributing the rising cases of juvenile delinquency to bad parenting.

“Growing up, any elderly person could reprimand a misbehaving kid. Children were raised by villages. We now have bad parents who stand aside and look as their children misbehave,” Arlington Shava, of Mabvuku in Harare, said.

Shocking revelations

Information provided by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare revealed that juvenile delinquency has become a national crisis.

The ministry ascribed the increase in juvenile delinquency to poor parenting.

Harare provincial social welfare officer Mrs Susan Ngani said such cases are much higher than projected.

“What is happening in communities is so sad. As we are fighting scourges such as drug and substance abuse, it is worrying to note that some homes are actually encouraging and fuelling cases of drug abuse,” Mrs Ngani said.

She said most of the young people who are problematic come from broken homes and households.

“Poor parenting is a reality that we need to face in this society. The majority of the deviant youths are coming from homes where parents and guardians are not strict. Broken families are also a source of deviant behaviour,” said Mrs Ngani.

While various schools around the country have been identified as drug havens, some homes have also been identified as drug dens.

Investigations carried out by The Sunday Mail Society revealed that alcoholic brands such as Tangueray, Jagermeister, Tequila, Jack Daniel’s, Pink Gin, Blue Gin and Smirnoff are easily available, even to minors, in residential areas.

Roman Catholic priest Father Paul Mayeresa said children who are brought up in disintegrated family setups are more likely to become criminals.

“Growing up, some of the children are exposed to bad behaviour. Later on, they will become deviant themselves,” said Fr Mayeresa.

Some parents, according to Fr Mayeresa, are not psychologically fit and are neglecting their parental duties.

Psychologist Dr Nisbert Mangoro attributed bad parenting to early marriages, which lead to unplanned parenthood.

“Some of these so-called parents are young and immature, so taking up proper parental responsibilities is a huge challenge to them,” he said.

He also ascribed bad parenting to cultural erosion.

Dr Mangoro believes parents play a huge part in the development of their children’s future.

“What we are seeing on the streets might be a reflection of how some of these kids are being treated at home,” he added.

Traditionalist Mbuya Calista Magorimbo also cited bad parenting as a source of juvenile delinquency. She said some parents are not taking their children to rural areas where they can learn certain cultural values.

“City life is good but it also has its darker side. Young people in urban areas are more exposed to Western cultures than their rural counterparts. In the end, they adopt bad cultural behaviours,” she said.

She also bemoaned the adoption of foreign cultures that make it difficult for neighbours and even relatives to reprimand misbehaving youngsters.

“In the past, it was easy for a couple or single parents to raise a child because the whole village was involved in bringing up a child.

“Western cultures are clearly against the idea where the whole community is entrusted with the development of children,” she added.


Children’s rights activist Ethel Nharira contends that, in order to strike a balance with societal norms and values, the authorities need to take another look at some of the child protection laws that have been passed.

She said some sections of the existing laws criminalise reprimanding children.

“The existing laws make it very difficult for parents and guardians to reprimand misbehaving children. We need to make a lot of noise so that these laws are either amended or scrapped altogether,” she said.

She added: “It is easy for a parent to even sell drugs to a neighbour’s child. We are destroying a whole generation with such acts.

“In schools, teachers are no longer able to reprimand learners because of some of the laws. We must always strike a balance.”

Psychologist and University of Johannesburg post-doctoral researcher Dr John Ringson said some of the behaviours being exhibited by minors are post-traumatic stress disorders.

“We have parents who are not directly involved with their kids and are neglecting them. Some parents are failing to meet their children’s needs beyond the basics of shelter, food and clothing, and this causes stress disorders,” he said.

According to Dr Ringson, poor parenting includes physical abuse, emotional neglect and emotional abuse of children.

He said bad parenting affects a child’s development and makes them more susceptible to mental health problems.

Dr Ringson suggested that parents should be educated on how to treat and groom children.  In conclusion, he called for the enactment of laws that make it easier for bad parents to be forced to surrender their children to social workers.

“Elsewhere in the world, bad parents are forced to surrender their children to social workers. This might be costly, but it is necessary,” he said.

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