Home EDUCATION Parental irresponsibility: A cause of child ‘streetism’ and moral degeneration

Parental irresponsibility: A cause of child ‘streetism’ and moral degeneration


According to the encyclopedia, the most common partaker in parenting is the biological parent(s) of the child in question, although others may be an older sibling, a grandparent, a legal guardian aunt, uncle or any family member or a family friend. Governments and society play a role as well.

In many cases, orphaned or abandoned children receive parental care from non-parent blood relations. Others may be adopted, raised in foster care, or placed in an orphanage.

Authoritarian parent

There are different styles of parenting. There are some parents who are very rigid and strict. They place high demand on the child but they are not responsive to the child. When the rigid rules that they made are not followed to the letter, stiff punishment is administered to promote future obedience.

I remember I boarded a commercial vehicle with a pupil who broke down in tears when our car broke down on the way due to a mechanical fault. His fear was that his father would beat him mercilessly for getting home late. According to the school boy, he was supposed to be home at exactly 5 p.m. each day. He would be in trouble if he gets home even a minute after 5p.m. I tried to calm him down and told him he should just explain to his father that his lateness was genuine but he said his father would not listen. “No watching of TV in my house, no playing, no visitations, etc”. These are examples of some rigid rules of an authoritarian parent.

There are other parents who are neither “too hard” nor “too soft”. They are aware of their children’s feelings and capabilities and support the development of the children’s autonomy within reasonable limits. In other words, they are quite liberal.

Some parents also highly value the freedom and the autonomy of their children to the extent that they (the parents) would not like to “offend” their children in any way, thereby pampering them. Such children are normally called ‘Dada-ba’ [Daddy’s (spoilt) child].

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Of course, the above styles of parenting have their advantages and disadvantages. There is another parenting style with which I personally have a problem, and that is described as uninvolving parenting.

This is done by parents who are emotionally and even physically absent as far as the upbringing of their children is concerned. In fact, they have little or no expectation of the child and have no communication, thereby creating a large gap between them and their children. The only role they played is that they brought the children into the world. Period!

Such parents do not care about what their children eat, wear and where they sleep. In fact, educating their children is none of their business, let alone training them to become responsible citizens. The sad thing is that as the children take care of themselves on the streets; they also give birth to their “kinds” and the “irresponsibility cycle” continues.

One would not be too bothered if such people eventually suffer alone for shirking their parental responsibilities. Unfortunately, society in general also suffers.

Trace the criminal and immoral cases committed in society and many would lead you to perpetrators who have very irresponsible parents. Of course, we could not generalise that all criminals have irresponsible parents.

I know of disciplined parents who brought up their children properly yet, some became wayward. To be fair to some parents, they wish they could take good care of their children but they are economically handicapped and their children take advantage of their situation to “be on their own”

I was sad when I saw five young men [boys?] aged between 19 and 22 arrested and paraded on television for robbery last month.

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About three weeks ago, I went to pick up a family relation who came from Kumasi to pay me a visit. As I waited for him in my car at a bus stop around 8 p.m., I was literally besieged by girls, who I guess would be between the ages of 11 and 17, soliciting sex from me. I was really shocked. These days many internet cafes are full of teenagers, not using the facility to do any meaningful academic research, but indulging in internet fraud, popularly known as sakawa.

The question is where are the parents of these children? What kind of training was given to them? Did they ever experience any parental love and care?

Of course, we could continue to lament about the situation but if we do not deal with it decisively, the consequences could be very serious. Religious organisations should intensify their education on good parenting.

Laws against shirking responsibility as a parent, if any exist, should be enforced and parents who are found culpable should be punished severely to serve as deterrent to others. Sometimes, broken marriages could also result in some children becoming wayward. Would-be couples should, therefore, be encouraged to undergo the necessary marriage counselling to know what exactly marriage entails before they enter into it.

Guidance and counselling centres should be established in schools, especially the basic ones, and those which already exist should be well-resourced to counsel students. This is because some of the immoral activities that some youth indulge in are results of peer pressure.

The duty of raising children to become responsible citizens is everybody’s but parents have a greater responsibility.

Writer’s E- mail: wofasammy4@yahoo.com
The writer is an archivist.


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