Shareef Blankenberg
Shareef Blankenberg

Going, going, gone — a whole generation lost

The recent South African Human Rights Commission report on school-based violence should have us all worried. It shows that some Western Cape schools pose higher safety and security risks than the townships themselves. The public hearing also noted (with extreme concern) the upsurge in violence on educators by learners.

I know someone is going to politicise this, but I want to focus on the parents only. Often we simply blame government, the system and educators. But what of the role of parents?

Nowadays, circumstances often force both parents to work. But which job keeps you busy 24/7? Don’t you ever have some spare time? So, how can parents say that their environment forces them not to spend time with their children?

Is it enough to entrust my child’s education to religious institutions or educators? What is my child picking up in between?

Parents often complain that, because of outcomes-based education and the Curriculum 2005 system, they do not understand the work done by learners any more. If we were really serious about our role as parents, then we would ensure that we at least had an idea of what our children were doing. And the curriculum is outcomes-based, which means that more often than not, our children are doing things that affect society — thus, easy for us to understand and work through.

Our world is constantly bombarded by negative perceptions and influences. How do we expect our children to deal with these when we cannot?

The internet is a great source of information and could help tremendously in our children’s upbringing. But we, as parents, need to ensure that the internet does not become our enemy by setting parameters for what our children is fed. I know many households do not yet have access to the internet or even have a computer at home, but if we do things right at home, there should be no reason for our children to look up porn, for instance, on the net.

I found that in my relationship with my son, all it takes is for me to spend a couple of minutes with him. He doesn’t want to be with me all the time, unless of course it has to do with something that interests him. But those few minutes that become “our time” help him focus on values I teach him. It helps him understand that I have rules which he has to obey. I do not have much time available, but I make time for my son.

Parents, we are busy losing a whole generation. And unless we start being parents, despite what comes from the government or the system, we will soon have no youth, or future, to speak of.