Children are not weapons

Former Citizen Editor Steven Motale. Picture: Michel Bega

Former Citizen Editor Steven Motale. Picture: Michel Bega

Some communities now see nothing wrong with perpetrating the worst atrocities against their own flesh and blood

A dangerous and highly irresponsible tendency is gaining popularity which, if not nipped in the bud, will destroy the future of thousands of black children. It’s common knowledge that disgruntled communities use violence and destruction of property as a tool to get the attention of authorities.

This, on its own, is deplorable as scarce resources that could have been used to service other needs of citizens are wasted on repairing infrastructure that has been vandalised. There are now communities, mostly in the townships, that have taken their irresponsible behaviour to unacceptable levels. They use their children as a bargaining tool to force government to deliver services.

Troubling reports have surfaced about some communities preventing children from going to school to force government to provide them with services such as running water, roads and electricity. According to the Sowetan newspaper, the North West department of education had to turn to the high court to compel residents of Kopela village in Delareyville to allow their children to return to school and write exams.

Schooling in the area was brought to a halt in August after the community burnt down three schools and a clinic and shut down a care centre and creches. This despicable behaviour also happened last year in Kuruman in the Northern Cape, where residents shut down 54 schools for months, resulting in thousands of children missing their exams and having to repeat their grades.

What kind of a parent violates their own children’s rights to fight government? Who, in their right mind, would engage in felonious conduct detrimental to their own offspring; preventing them from acquiring such an important empowerment tool as education. Nelson Mandela said education was “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

Madiba also said: “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.”

Every caring and loving parent, even those who can’t afford it, do their utmost to provide their children with everything they can to help them become better people, who can sustain themselves and not be a burden to the state. Research shows children who aren’t cared for adequately are more likely to engage in antisocial and criminal behaviour.

This impacts negatively on society as the prospects of children without a proper upbringing are bleak. What is happening in Delareyville is a crisis of calamitous proportions that, bizarrely, hasn’t made headlines or triggered marches in a country in which the killing of a single murderous robber sparks national outrage.

While this shameless violation of children’s rights by those they look up to for protection is difficult to comprehend and must be condemned, those in authority should pause for a moment and ask themselves tough questions. One should be: have some of our communities become so desperate they now see nothing wrong with perpetrating the worst atrocities against their own flesh and blood?


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