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In this 21st century characterized by readily accessible technology tools, independent thinking and dilution of culture as a result of the world becoming a global village, parenting has also evolved from the traditional methods and roles. Children are being brought up and moulded by so many different means such as television, computers, social platforms etc. Gone are the days whereby dinner time consisted of a family gathered together to enjoy the meal in each other’s company sharing stories of the day’s events and plans for the future.

A typical meal time may be of a child sitting in front of an unmonitored television set watching unsupervised programs perhaps in the company of the child minder, who in some cases may be a child themselves at seventeen years or younger. Where are the parents or guardians one might ask? Some may view this question as irrelevant as all is supposed to be well when a child is sheltered, fed and entertained, unfortunately this is not always the case.

Often children are being left in the company of other children, random relatives, neighbours or even to their own devices whilst parents scavenge for money in various ways, activities and countries. Understandably we are living in harsh economic times and survival is worked for as it will not fall like manna from heaven. However, some parents are neglecting their duty to children which is to ensure their protection at all costs. “Uncle (17) rapes niece (3)” reads the headlines of an article in the Manica Post, weekender dated 11 – 17 October 2013. A mother entrusted her female child in the care of a male uncle whilst going about her chores without knowing she was leading a sheep into a lion’s den. Is it that parents and guardians are ignorant or in denial of the fact that values and morals are changing in society or could it be that there are too many distractions in the world interfering with parenting?

Referring to yet another article featured in The Standard newspaper dated October 27 – November 2 entitled “Children deserve parental guidance” children as young as 12 are engaging in premature sexual activities and shockingly not with people of their own age but much older persons. Where are the parents when this is happening? And whose and what kind of a parent is sleeping with somebody else’s young child? One cannot stop all the evils of the world but people should make time to play their part such as developing sound relationships with your children, taking time to mould positive values in them, encouraging open and honest communication which is two-way, showing respect for their ability to think and reason and most importantly educating them on the dangers of the world.

Today’s parents at times have been seen to display shocking parental skills. “Father sires child with daughter” reads an article in the Manica Post, weekender dated 27 September – 3 October. He or she who is supposed to be the ultimate protector of a child is found being the perpetrator of abuse. Where have our morals gone as Africans whereby such incestuous behaviour is seemingly becoming more frequent. Children are suffering at the hands of their so called protectors or in some cases the negligence of their guardians has often resulted in their vulnerability.

It is also truly sad and disheartening to realise that although a child may be provided with the best care possible and provided for most adequately, another random being feels entitled to ruin that child’s well being by taking advantage of a parent or guardian’s trust and abusing that child. This poses a difficult decision in most homes of how does one balance ensuring the safety and protection of their child with partaking in economic activities to safeguard the family’s survival? When parents or guardians go to the Diaspora, engage in cross border trading, work long hours, attend societal clubs, participate in religious pursuits, pursue recreational activities the list is endless, your child could be in danger. Hence it is up to us as society to open our eyes and ears to abuse and desist from ignorant behaviour, denial and at times sheer laziness or selfishness which is jeopardizing the wellbeing of not just our own children but any other child.  When you expose children to pornography, engage in sexual activity with minors, do not take time to supervise children and their activities adequately, do not make time to hear a child crying out for help or provide positive guidance to children, you are contributing to the vulnerability of a child. Parenting is a job which should be allocated enough time, attention and effort. After all children are supposed to be the future  hence we must ensure a brighter tomorrow .

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