KEETMANSHOOP – Alicia Jansen, a grade 7 learner at Minna Sachs Primary school, fears that more children will drop out of school as a result of gender-based violence (GBV) and substance abuse.
“These evils are happening daily in our society – and if something is not done drastically to curb it, it can destroy us – tomorrow’s leaders – physically and emotionally,” she told New Era here earlier this week.
Jansen (13) thus urged law enforcement agencies to be more vigilant and to patrol residential areas where these acts are taking place daily.
Fourteen-year-old Jeansophine Hanse said children are bullied and subjected to peer pressure to get involved in substance abuse in and outside school.
“What is worrisome is that most of these victims tend to become aggressive towards fellow learners at times,” she said.
The minor added it is quite challenging for children who grow up in houses where there is GBV as well as alcohol and drug abuse to progress in life.
The two shared their views on the sidelines of a workshop addressing the harm GBV and substance abuse can cause to a child’s future.
During the gathering, a social worker and law enforcement officers discussed and explained several issues surrounding these social evils to the pupils.
Samuel Shimuningeni, a social worker from the gender ministry, warned perpetrators of GBV sometimes carry out these evil deeds in a way that others are not aware of.
“It normally starts with young girls being softened up with gifts and money, mobile phone credit, expensive items – to mention but a few – after which victims are forced into sexual abuse as compensation,” he added.
The social worker then raised the concern that such incidents are not reported to the police, saying some victims are threatened with assault by perpetrators.
In terms of violence at home between parents, Shimuningeni explained some children bottle it up and become unwilling to come forward – and it sometimes leads to suicidal thoughts and substance abuse.
He then called on learners to stand up for their rights, make the correct choices in life and not be afraid to report any of these incidents to the police, teachers or anybody they can trust in their community.
In his contribution, warrant officer Samuel Shilongo assured the youngsters that help is always available for them if they are subjected to physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
“The Namibian Police Force will deal with anybody doing these things to you in accordance with the law, which may lead to them being sent to prison at the end,” he added.
The police officer, in the same vein, warned learners not to abuse their parents emotionally.
“Staying out late at night on the streets, not attending school and blackmailing your parents for favours in return for you giving your desired cooperation are all forms of emotional abuse,” he explained.
Shilongo further called on learners to stay out of the streets and nightclubs, to not befriend just anybody, and to concentrate more on their studies.