Convent drama: A case in point

29 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Convent drama: A  case in point

The Sunday Mail

Editor’s Brief
Victoria Ruzvidzo

DOMINICAN Convent is a school with high standards, long established over the years. It has also been well-earned.

It produces some of the best students in this country. Its reputation precedes it.

We, therefore, find reports of drug abuse by some learners at the institution extremely worrisome. It is a Catholic school and very exacting in its standards.

Our sister paper, The Herald, carried a front-page story on Friday in which eight girls had been expelled from the school for allegedly carrying drugs to a leadership camp. They were reportedly caught red-handed using the substances while others were said to have the stuff in their handbags.

These are stories you never wish to hear, experience as a parent or write about. But in reality, this is happening.

We have dedicated so much space writing about drug and substance abuse on our platforms as media to spark off debate, with the desire to find lasting solutions, but the situation is not relenting. Our children are sinking deeper into the abyss.

As a Christian school, it is inconceivable to expect anyone at Dominican Convent to partake of drugs given the high moral standards there.

It is a citadel of exact and higher learning. Over the decades, the school has provided outstanding students. And it continues to.

But we cannot nail it to the Dominican Convent alone. It is a microcosm of what is obtaining in the country and even the globe at large.

Over the last few days, we have learnt that most schools, if not all of them, in this country, have had such incidents where learners have been expelled due to drug and substance abuse.

This is not to exonerate Convent but it brings to the fore the gravity of the matter and therein lies the challenge.

Children expelled from school have their future altered. Some may recover from the ordeal while others may even become delinquent. This generation needs to be rescued through a more holistic approach.

It is a sensitive subject that does not require curt measures but should be handled with great care, caution and a long-term approach. It does not require quick-fix measures.

Debate has been raging on social media platforms and at dinner tables since the publication of the Convent girls story.

The jury is still out on whether the institution did right to expel the girls or should have punished them by stripping them of their leadership roles and accolades but keeping them in school, with a parallel rehabilitation programme in place.

There is need for a sober approach to this menace. Why do the youths — both in and out of school — resort to drugs? Why do they even think it is a remedial measure? Can the cause be justified?

Studies have established that children their age face multiple potential stressors. They are subject to a whole range of factors, be it at home, at school or in the community in general.

They need attention. We have children who need to perform, who are expected to do so the whole time by their parents and family at large. In other instances, we have those who are under pressure to deliver from the teachers who guide them. But it is not everyone who can handle this.

Furthermore, society at large has its expectations while also hosting some of the traps through which the vulnerable children fall into drugs.

A lot of the pressure is inadvertent but it creates these challenges in some instances. We need to ensure we do not exert too much pressure on them. Similarly, if one is a teacher, or in any position of authority, they need to be more careful. But the question becomes: What is too much pressure, particularly to the current generation of youths?

Asking them to do some chores at home or to dedicate certain number of hours to school work is considered too much pressure already.

Not having enough meat in their dinner plate can even cause them to display suicidal tendencies. It boggles the mind.

We wonder if they would have been strong enough to withstand the days when schoolchildren, particularly in rural areas, walked long distances to school bare-footed and without a sandwich box in their school bag? There was no bag to even talk about, anyway.

Would the ama2000 have survived this and become central bank governors and chief executive officers, as well as landing other high-profile jobs, or they would simply turn to recreational drugs to drown their sorrows and pains? Such myopia needs attention.

Psychologists have noted that most problems emanate from domestic or school issues. They also say a lot comes from peer pressure.

So, having observed the vulnerability of our children, are we doing enough as parents? Are we teaching our children proper life skills? Are we communicating adequately? Are we guiding and guarding them against the evil ways of the world?

At school, what pressures do our children have? Do we set the bar too high for them to perform? Do teachers put even more pressure on them? And should they not?

Reference has been made to peer pressure. Young children or youths are influenced by others.

They simulate behaviour. They do what they see others do. So, are we helping them to pick the right networks or who they choose to associate with is beyond us?

This drugs challenge is not a result of poverty, as the Convent case clearly demonstrates.

The school is for the well-heeled and some of the substances are expensive and can only be accessed by the well-to-do. There are deeper issues.

Drugs have diverse and far-reaching effects. They affect behaviour and health in profound ways.

They lead to wayward behaviour. They often result in even criminal acts, as some youths often steal to get money to purchase them. They even do this to their own parents.

Because of their highly addictive nature, the habit is self-perpetuating and must be avoided at all costs.

Learners who partake of them do so in the horrendously false belief that they are a solution to challenges they may be facing, be it at home or school.

Worse still, drugs inflict mental illnesses, which are on the rise nationally. So, in erroneously trying to deal with issues, kids or learners create even bigger problems, some of which are difficult to recover from.

While inactivity or redundancy has been attributed to the rise in drug and other substance abuse, this is simply not good enough and would seem to justify such obnoxious behaviour at face value. The Convent issue is a case in point.

In South Africa, reports show that substance abuse among learners is associated with a range of criminal acts such as violence and bullying.

It has also been associated with a range of mental disorders while, socially, it is associated with social disorganisation, deviant behaviour and social interaction with deviant groups, depending on which substances are used.

“In the school environment and academic context, substance abuse has been associated with challenges in school discipline, appetitive aggression and other classroom management challenges.

“These frustrate the achievement of intended education outcomes, and result in poor academic performance, including possible dropping out of school,” reads one of the reports.

It says the social environment is often a significant determinant of substance abuse, with adolescents being often influenced by their peers.

Other determinants of drug use among young people in that country are said to include curiosity, sense of growing up, amount or lack of parental discipline and monitoring, and family cohesion.

Availability and easy access of illicit drugs within the community or the household, economic hardship, high unemployment, lack of adequate social support networks, pressure to meet daily family needs and family conflicts were all associated with use of illicit drugs, said the report.

These findings are not just confined to SA, but are universal.

Stakeholders need to put their
heads together and deal with the issue holistically.

In the meantime, we do our best as parents, guardians, schools and churches to stop this.

We need to groom our children so that they grow up with the right mentality. They do so with self-belief, self-confidence and self-respect and never to default to self-destructive coping mechanisms.

We also need to ensure that those who sell drugs face prohibitive jail terms. They should be hunted and hounded.

Many of these are parents themselves but they seem blinded by the lure of the dollar. It is a shame.

Those who fall into wayward behaviour need rehabilitation and societal support. This demands that Government, civil society, parents and NGOs address, mitigate and control this challenge.

We need to educate our youths on the dangers of drugs.

Like the proverbial ostrich, we cannot bury our head in the sand and assume that trouble is not coming. It is here and now, and must be addressed.

Our youths are our treasure. They are our tomorrow. We need to rescue them.

In God I Trust!


Twitter: @VictoriaRuzvid2; Email: [email protected]; [email protected]; WhatsApp number: 0772 129 972.


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