Advocacy for Child Justice (ACJ) is deeply perturbed by reports in the media indicating the involvement of children in the spraying of unknown poisonous chemicals with intent to injure/harm fellow children.
The- Spraying-of-Harmful-Chemical reports which has dominated our air waves makes a very sad reading and shows how Zambia is swiftly degenerating into a heartless society and a threat to children’s safety and development. Zambia is no longer safe for the children! The current situation and confession stories of children being used by unknown people in this evil gassing/spraying of innocent people and their fellow children is a violation of children’s rights, and a serious assault on Article 24(1)(2) on the protection of young persons from exploitation.
Article 24(1) (2) Amendment No.18 of 1996 of the constitution of Zambia states that:
(1) “No young person shall be employed and shall and shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education or interfere with his physical, MENTAL OR MORAL DEVELOPMENT”.
(2) “All young persons shall be PROTECTED AGAINST physical or mental ill-treatment, all forms of neglect, cruelty or EXPLOITATION”
What has happened is a fundamental breach of protection of children as provided for in the constitution of Zambia. We, therefore, demand that the Government arrest this swiftly escalating criminal practices in the country, order sanity by bring culprits to book.
Further, there several contributing factors that should not be over looked as we grapple with this current wave of children involvement in dangerous activities that have started threatening the very core of our security and general safety of every Zambian. The current socio-economic epidemic has not only adversely affected the population of prime age adults and family structure systems in Zambia but also amplified children’s vulnerability. The two important streams that need to be assessed in this regard are family structures and childhood vulnerability. Child vulnerability increase proportionately as an equal and corresponding response to the quality of family structures and supporting system that children find themselves in. The increase in the ranks of vulnerability for children compounds the negative economic and social consequences that can plummet this country into a cycle of this crisis our country is faced with unfortunately.
The danger is that, if this is not dealt with carefully and holistically, Zambian society will be turned into a training and production site of frustrated young criminals; thereby putting Zambian future in serious question mark. The Unfortunate situation is that children and the youth are left to themselves, unsupervised, unguided at a very critical developmental stage of their lives, with many social problem that has come as a result of improved technology and unguided easy access to certain information not ready for their consumption, leaving children and youths open and unprotected to crimes. The Zambian parents, family members and the communities need to come together once again and develop heightened capacity building programmes in an effort to salvage something from this current crisis before it becomes uncontrollable.
We will have to go back to basic family value system before we look at the socio-economic challenges that could have contributed to the current situation. Strong family value systems will be a chief corner stone on which the curative and preventive crime mechanisms, and protection of children mechanisms should be built on. There must be strong educational campaigns that should revitalise family values, moral; concerted and amalgamated, long term and well planned chain of efforts, in a holistic manner by all key stakeholders to save the young generation from moral degeneration and self-obliteration.
Our duty bearers, law enforcers and community members must be proactive in order to enforce sanity in our society or we have lost this generation to the dogs. If you are a parent, you must worry about what your child does when they are not with you. You must wonder if they are behaving. You must wonder if they are safe. You should be concerned that they are not getting into any trouble.
There is strong need to revisit our family structure systems AS FIRST LINE IN DEFENCE FOR CHILDREN and community structures before we entirely blame the socio- economic and political challenges for the mess we have found ourselves in as a country. I, therefore, call for all key stakeholders for concerted efforts in addressing this and deter children involvement in evil practices phenomenon that has exposed our weaknesses in many fronts as a nation and puts our children at risk and casting a dark shadow on the future of our Great Nation Zambia.
By: Josphat Njobvu