Children have “the right to proper parental guidance,” that is, according to the Children’s Act. Most parents point a finger at the children when children are out of order. They would say that children have been given too many rights than is necessary.

Parents complain that NGOs that deal with children’s rights are always on the side of children. They compare how youth are now to how they were in the past. They complain that youth have gone wild, and undisciplined, which they blame on technology, NGOs, formal education, and the mass media.

Let’s debate it: parents are failing their children. One of the reasons why children misbehave is that the parent(s) have not carried out their duties effectively.


If a child goes out of hand, it is the parental responsibility to guide the child. Proper parental guidance means that a child cannot sleep out without the knowledge of the parent, cannot neglect their responsibilities with the knowledge of the parent, and cannot turn life priorities upside down in the full view of a parent.

We are talking about rights and children. Do they really have all the rights, as parents often decry? Children have rights, of course, that include the right to privacy, the right to leisure play and recreation, and the right to freedom of association. Some other rights are fundamental human rights of the 1948 UN Declaration on Human Rights.

The sixteen rights provided in the Botswana Children’s Act are meant to protect children. There is no single right that is meant to derail children. Children are exposed to all sorts of influences and their immaturity can cause them to make wrong choices in life and display outward and unacceptable behaviour.

RIGHTS RHYME WITH RESPONSIBILITIES

Rights should benefit children because they ought to rhyme with responsibilities. For a child to make meaning out of a right they should marry it with its corresponding responsibility.

“We have a responsibility as parents to teach our children about their rights and responsibilities.

This creates a controlled environment that allows children to act responsibly”. Children's rights should as well benefit parents because when their rights and responsibilities are observed children are happy and they achieve more. They grow confident, and assertive and hold family values in high regard.

Rights and responsibilities improve children’s talents and make their parents proud and, ultimately the children would differentiate what is wrong from what is right.

THE RIGHT TO CONTROL AND GUIDE A CHILD’S UPBRINGING

The law provides for the “parental right to control and guide a child’s upbringing...” It recognises the position of a parent in the upbringing of a child by providing for parental rights, duties, and responsibilities.

The law again states that a parent has a natural duty to “provide direction and guidance to the child.” If the parent is incapable of providing such, the law empowers the parent to seek professional advice including advice from family members and community leaders.

There is nowhere the law provides for ignorance as a reason. The law opens avenues for knowledge and empowerment. The aspect of ignorance of a parent is a non-starter. Of course, some parents may not know that children have rights and responsibilities.

Some parents may not know that they have a responsibility for their children’s right to have proper parental guidance... but there are penalties, which neither condone ignorance, nor negligence.

THERE ARE PENALTIES

A fine or imprisonment can be awarded to any person found guilty of having infringed the rights of a child provided for in the Children’s Act. A fine can be not less than P5000.00 but not more than P10000.00 or imprisonment, not less than six months and not more than twelve months.

AND PARENTS ARE SO INDISPENSABLE

Crimes that young people commit such as heists, murder and rape, misconduct that students display at school such as vandalism and bullying, and the disobedience that children show at home such as partying and substance abuse are a result of a plethora of influencing factors. Some of the causal factors are lack of family values, mental and emotional instability or negative peer pressure but the underlining factor is that the parent did or did not do what they were supposed to do.

The parent shapes a destiny, starts a journey so that when the child is empowered enough the child continues the journey with minimum assistance. The parent is the mature one, who should nurture and who can fore see things.

Children, in this regard, are in stages of development and only the adult should torch their way through until maturity.

If the parent settles comfortably at the ignorance floor, the child is even more doomed because the child has no experience to refer to, no maturity to employ in decision making, not enough physical strength to bring basic needs to the table. Please, don’t forget to like my Facebook page and buy my new book Ke ntse Ke ithaya kere.