Home > Child Protection > Substance Abuse: The Rising Threat To Children

Another month ends and the stack of unpaid bills grows. The children need food, fees, clothing and upon lifting the cover on the plate laid before you, the smell of watery vegetables without meat, cooking oil or condiments that tantalize the palate hits you. The spouse begins spewing out the list of problems you are currently facing, the children are crying nonstop. You find yourself walking out of the home to find a moment of peace, a breather of sorts, some time to relieve yourself of your woes and enjoy the company of others. You think a few drinks, pleasure pills, smokes etc will take the edge off and help you relax, tomorrow you will come up with a way of solving your problems. Yet the sad reality is that for so many, tomorrow never comes. Many join the procrastination train where tomorrow is constantly put off to another day, month and year. However for those around such individuals, the consequences become their daily threat.

As the plight of poverty heightens in society and particularly the household, people can be found searching for coping mechanisms to get through the bleakness of the days. Unfortunately so many individuals, the majority being male have found solace in the array of intoxicating substances available on the market. Mutare in particular has become a hub of drug trading with an increasing demand arising from the younger male demographic. Constantly stories are emerging in the Press of drug-induced deaths or violent acts, most recently being a story of a father who stabbed his own children while intoxicated (Manica Post, 15 – 21 January). It is truly saddening when innocent children pay the price of an adult’s irresponsibility.

A wise woman once said, “You can tell the behavior or language of a parent through communicating with their child,” meaning that our children learn by association and what we do and say as adults is what they will depict. As we drown our sorrows, making spectacles of ourselves and engaging in all sorts of misdemeanor and deviant acts in the eyes of children, we are impacting a lasting memory and negative lessons. Previously men where the unfortunate culprits associated with substance abuse and drunken behaviour. However, more and more women are now engaging in the same activities and what is disturbing is the effect this has on the child growing up in that environment. One is entitled to their own pleasures but this should not compromise the innocence or wellbeing of children and other dwellers in the household.

It is odd how poverty and financial constraints is one of the key social problems that are mentioned by people as a root cause of substance abuse and other deviant acts, yet substance abuse requires the expenditure of income. This at times occurs at the cost of providing children with their rights such as that to education, access to health care, food and nutrition etc. A family may be surviving on the point of starvation whilst the bread winner is found braaing meat to accompany their daily alcoholic beverages after work before going home to sleep. In the quest for temporary and short – term enjoyment, priorities are being shifted to accommodate costly and potentially detrimental habits such as substance abuse. What starts off as a seemingly harmless form of enjoyment can grow into a potentially dangerous habit that will affect the lives of others especially children. Thus, Simukai Child Protection Programme is appealing to all adults to take responsibility of our actions and not pose a threat on the children in our society. Children are the future of tomorrow hence require our collective efforts to protect them.For further comments, discussion or feedback please email simukaiadvocacy@gmail.com or visit our facebook page: Simukai Child Protection Programme or website: Simukaicpp.org

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