What about our children?

Johann Kikkilus, Soteria Ministries, Ocean View

The Department of Basic Education’s announcement that the school year will only commence in the middle of February might assist with keeping Covid-19 numbers down and our hospital less frantic, but it poses other extremely serious social issues.

At the beginning of every school year, we usually begin by picking up the pieces of the December holidays. For example, in the past 10 years of working in Ocean View, my January and February months have always been full, dealing predominately with drug and abuse related problems.

Over the Christmas period, which should be a time of peace and unity, there is sadly an increase in child abuse and domestic violence. Added to this is the fact that many of our youth start experimenting with drugs, mostly due to boredom. We also see a spike in teenage pregnancy as well as sexual abuse.

What makes this year even worse is that many families have breadwinners who lost their jobs due to the lockdown. Hundreds of families are living in very stressful conditions. The problem with opening schools later is that the school environment is often the only place of safety for millions of children. It is often the only place where they get a plate of food. Here they can find emotional support, and an alert teacher will see the bruises of abuse and act. Now these children will have to face another few weeks of suffering.

I wonder how our society will ever recover from this. I have mentioned Ocean View because that is where my primary focus has been, but it is common knowledge that the issues I have discussed here are found across the far south.

I want to encourage churches, NPOs and ordinary citizens to please invest extra time and money to ensure that our children and youth are cared for over the next month. We cannot have an entire generation scarred for life by the effects of an extended lockdown.