Insight

Parenting, moral decadence and influence of environment on youths

There are various issues in recent time involving youths that bothers on lack of proper parenting. ADEYINKA ADENIJI reports on rising moral decadence hindering the future of young ones in the country

Moral degeneration

Moral degeneration among young people, especially those of school age is no doubt at a nauseating ebb. And the moral compass among teenagers and young adults yearn for an urgent reset, as the current abysmal level of decadence has become scary; not only for the present age, but also because today’s youths are tomorrow’s elders and leaders. But the average youth is a helpless product of the society – the environment – and just like it is with every other entity, whether individual or bodies corporate, the overbearing influence of the environment as a determining factor of how and what they ultimately manifest, can only be downplayed at a great disservice to the youngsters in question and a fundamental peril to the society at large. Depending on the direction of influence upon them, the youths may only manifest a replica of their immediate or remote environment.

Immediate is the physically reachable and accessible factors and forces that influence the living, socialisation, performance and learning of the child; while the remote environment refers to the physically distant variants of these factors, which are brought into accessibility by and the reach of the child, through globalisation and internet evolution.

Therefore, a child’s environment includes all the factors and forces which could be found and accessed in the physical or the internet spaces and which can also find and access him or her. The Nigerian child is exposed to all that the environment could offer, in terms of the caliber of leaders, schools, peers, relations, churches, mosques, and even academic teaching modules, among others; with the various dimensions and manifestations of their influence on them. The root of youth decadence may not be properly addressed until they (the youth) are considered and treated as the helpless products of their environment.

Regrettably, heart-wrenching headlines of youth involvement in sexual immoralities, ritualism, drug abuse, robbery, fraud – both on or offline – to mention but a few, have become a staple in the news space and hardly do a day passes without at least a bizarre headline, breaking one news or the other, of juvenile crimes. Then, it becomes ponderable, that the malaise of youth degeneration highlights the failure of all that constitutes the environment. Moral rottenness also signifies the failure of parents and parenting – which is the act through which society gets involved to promote and support the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. It is noteworthy, however, to stress that parenting is not exclusive to the biological parents – the mother and the father alone – but the fundamental obligation of the entire society, to guide, nurture, train, tender and instruct the younger generation from childhood into virtuous adulthood. It has been rightly said that it takes the parents to give birth to a child, but it takes the entire community to train them.

From parental negligence and/or indulgence, negative effects of digitalisation; exposure to unguarded frivolities (in the name of school extracurricular activities); uncensored exposure to inappropriate and harmful media contents; western culture interference; misplaced priority on the part of religious and educationbased organisations (RBO’s and EBOs), to the lack of value-driven learning modules (signifying failure on the part of the authorities), all indices point to a gloomy future for humanity; and except pragmatic redemptive steps and firm stands are taken towards the needed moral rebirth, the future may best be described as uncertain.

Leaders and social influencers

Another explanation for the abysmally low morality level in the general society, to which youths are most prone, is the negative prominence of affluent rulers, leaders and social influencers, who flaunt ill-gotten wealth with nothing to show in terms of service to humanity; thereby, ultimately, impressing an awkward reward system for mediocrity. This discourages diligence, honesty, hard work, patriotism, e.t.c. amongst the youth, who are easily swayed to believe that the quickest way to affluence is the selfish arrogance of illicit wealth. The lack of requisite commitment to prosecute and deal decisively with acts of corruption and criminality, among elderly public figures in government, has also been found a factor encouraging illegality among the younger generation. While several factors have been advanced as the inspiration behind the heightened frequency of some of the most deadly crimes and immoralities among people of the teenage bracket, one aspect of the debate that has generated the most heat and proven inexhaustible is the contention about which aspect of the environment is to be held responsible for debasement in societal rectitude. In the recent past, different variants of juvenile decadence were brought to the fore; ranging from murder, ritualism, sexual immorality and so on. Nonetheless, as can be observed, with the various manifestations of decadence among the youths, come certain peculiarities that may help in ascertaining which environmental factor influences their expression at any time. Some of these factors are intertwined and their influences are contributory and mutual. Schools, both privately or publicly owned, also contribute in no measure to the persistent cases of youth degeneration. Some of them are known to have aided and encouraged the perpetration of sleaze against innocent children in their care.

Chrisland School saga

Recently, a sex tape involving kids from Chrisland Schools, one of the elitist private educational institutions in Lagos State, involving an acclaimed 10-year-old kid, Julie Ake,according to the mother’s account, generated public outcry. The said video elicited diverse reactions from the public, with a section blaming the school authority because according to them, the youthful sleaze was committed by the students where and when deemed to be under the supervision of the school; while another section heaped the blame on the parents, whom they opined has greater control, hence influence, over the kids. They found their assertions on what they view as palpable lies in Julie’s mother’s social media video account of the sleaze in which her daughter was a major factor. Observers viewed her outburst, where she accused Chrisland Schools of conducting a secret pregnancy test on her child and attempting to sweep the matter under the carpet as a blame-shifting tactic. They also opined that Julie Ake was older than 10 years as she claimed, based on the preposterous scenes observed in the said video. Ake’s case is one out of many kiddies scandals involving schools, especially the millionaire designated ones. Reported or not. Sexual immorality, gangsterism, cultism and other organised disobediences are sad realities in schools nowadays. Whether privately or publicly owned.

Parents aid unruly children

There had been instances where parents aided their wards in waywardness, both at home and school. Prominent is the case of a woman known as Elizabeth Joseph, who reportedly attacked Toyon High School, Ere, Ado-Odo, in Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area, with three hired roughnecks, beating up three teachers and destroying their properties.

She had visited mayhem in the school because her son, Joshua Joseph, an SS3 student of the school was denied entry into the classroom for turning up with an outlawed hairstyle. Also in Ogun State, the police arrested a 35-year-old father, Abidemi Oluwaseun, for allegedly storming a public school with thugs to attack a teacher for chastising her 15-yearold daughter. Instances of irrational parents attacking teachers who incur their (the parents’) wrath in a bid to perform their duty of training the pupils abound and there seems to be no end in sight to the anomaly.

The minister in charge of Christ Apostolic Church Students Association, Meiran, Lagos, a.k.a. Fountain of Joy, Pastor Timothy Sanni Oduoye, who is also an educationist harped on parental indulgence, broken homes and western culture interference as major causes of juvenile decadence. According to him, the inability to differentiate parental discipline from child abuse is the greatest undoing of the overindulged children, their inability to separate abuse from discipline. Some people, according to the pastor, “believe there is nothing to learn from the disciplinary models of the old people, thereby seeing all as abuse.”

The pastor continued by saying that teachers face an uphill task in performing their duty because some parents are always opposed to certain manner of discipline for their children. He explained that “some parents now see the strict conditions and disciplinary models under which they were brought up as outdated, unnecessary, harsh and should not be meted out on their wards in school or church.” The teacher cum pastor narrated an experience he had with an SS2 girl, who absconded from home and school for 3 days.

The girl’s parents were invited upon the former’s return without cogent reasons for her absence. The vibrant teacher-cum preacher said he was dumbfounded upon sighting the mother. In his words: “Just merely sighting the mother, one could tell why the little lady always misbehaves in school” Describing an overly bleached skin, indecent dressing and zebra-patterned legs, caused by abuse of various skin bleaching substances, he said he became speechless and had to refer the case to his superior.

The Osun State born Sanni added that broken homes, which according to him are the outcomes of varying factors, also contribute to the regrettable degree of youthful immortality. “Broken homes are another factor, single parenting where kids are left in the sole care of mother or father as against the will of God has caused the derailment to the lives of many children. At the separation of husband and wife through the dissolution of the institution of marriage, many children become the object of abuse and molestation at the hands of wicked relatives. Some are sent to live in residential churches, with older people calling themselves pastors, who take advantage of the innocent children.”

The CAC pastor also mentioned exposure to uncensored graphical content in still and video images, as another cause of decadence amongst youths. He says the advent of the Internet has virtually granted the younger generation destructively unhindered access to age-sensitive contents, like violence, cruelty, romance and pornography.

Citing the example of a pupil on who a phone was found with over 30 different pornographic video clips, he said, “The saddening thing is that some of these kids are children who confessed to being workers in the church, they follow their parents to church, some of them ushers while some others claim to be choir members in the church” It is the same parental negligence that creates a gulf of distance that impedes the needed parent-wards intimacy that should have opened up the kids to their parents. Many children were known to have suffered abuses and molestations in silence at the hands of guardians, relations and neighbors who take advantage of parental dereliction to molest the younger ones.

Role of schools

In a similar vein, schools have been found on several occasions, to be willing enablers of the degeneration that has happened to the younger generation kept in their custody for systemic tutoring and impartation of morals. The Chrisland students’ Dubai ‘sexcapade’ would have been swept under the carpet according to Julie Ake’s mother.

In 2019, Justice Sybil Nwaka sitting at the Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court sentenced a teacher of the same Chrisland School, named Adegboyega Adenekan, 47, who raped a two-year-old girl to 60 years in prison. A recent report from Port Harcourt, River State, had it on authoritative account that there had been over 50 cases of teachers molesting primary or secondary school pupils in the first four months of the current year. Learning centers as a part of the overall environment fail when unable to deliver on expectations of transmitting morals, knowledge and skills to kids in their trust.

Whether skills and knowledge had been transferred to the Chrisland school kids could not be ascertained from the Dubai sex video, but certainly, the expected morals and virtue were not. A warped training module, western culture interference, inconsistent regulatory frameworks by the government, and inculcation of distorted culture in the name of extracurricular activities among others, are the basic causes of failure of the schools. These have contributed to the general decadence among the youth populace, where Julie Ake’s parents failed in their God imposed discipline of doing their very best to ensure that children do not ultimately hurt themselves.

Sadly, with reckless abandon, many parents are abdicating duty over their wards. All in the name of sending them to school, they unwittingly engage in ungodly and irresponsible out-sourcing of their God-assigned responsibility for the value of the school fees. Whereas, children are believed and expected to be closest to their parents, considering that they are the first teachers to which kids are exposed, the peculiar bond that existed between them and the number of hours spent together, this cannot be said to so in many cases.

Sadly, unrestricted access to age-sensitive media contents, indecent dressing and other forms of immorality like bullying, covetousness e.t.c, which ought to be checked at home are left unattended to, due to negligence and dereliction of parental duties and guidance similarly. Delinquent parents abandon their wards and expose them to the mercy of peer pressure, with tendencies to imitate their mates at school. With a mind craving acceptability, derelict little kids are left to naively make choices that are harmful to their immediate and future wellbeing.

Though the current narrative on the issue of decadence among school kids is shifting the blame to the parents, the schools are largely culpable too. This reflects in the area of sexual immorality which the kids rarely learn at home, but from the school environment as a matter of peer pressure and from ungodly caregivers who take advantage of them. A former reporter with ThisDay Newspaper, Shola Oyeyipo, spoke of how he was stiffly impeded from investigating a case of child molestation in a Surulere, Lagos secondary school. “As a journalist, I witnessed a situation where a school frustrated my efforts at calling their attention to the presence of a “sheep in wolf’s skin” among their staffers “A young secondary school leaver walked up to me and narrated how she was introduced to lesbianism by one of her teachers.

She said the lady would take her to a secluded part of the classroom and started by fondling sensitive parts of her body. She grew to become a fullblown lesbian and grew weary of the act and then wanted a redress. She wanted justice; to have the teacher exposed, so the school could be placed on notice of the presence of the danger that her former teacher constitutes to the students, but was also afraid of the publicity.” Shola continued by saying that the school management, apparently, for their reputation was uncooperative. “They blocked all efforts at investigating the matter. They blocked everyone from speaking to any reporter…I know how to locate the school, but don’t know the address,” Shola stressed.

Challenge of peer pressure

Peer pressure is another factor that warps up a child’s proper upbringing. The school is a meeting point for kids from varying backgrounds who mingle with tendencies of influencing and being influenced by one another. Uncensored exposure to adult content, both online and offline, is another dangerous trend. Mrs Eunice Babalola is a private school owner and a church caregiver, she believes the parents, especially mothers are to blame.

“How hypocritical are some parents who complain about decadence but sit with kids to watch age-sensitive TV programs, play lewd music and dance viciously to the beats.” Exposure to immoral media content left unchecked retains the strongest tendency to exacerbate the level of immorality among youths. Four teenagers were arrested and arraigned for ritual killing in Abeokuta, Ogun State in January 2022. Majekodunmi Sodiq was arrested alongside three others for ritual killing. Caught with blood dripping half-burnt head of Rofiat Balogun his girlfriend, Sodiq confessed under police interrogation that he learnt how to create a ritual for money by concocting human heads with other ingredients in a Facebook video.

In any environment where mediocrity is elevated above dignity, the destructive effect is usually on the younger generation who are subconsciously mentored by public figures as they are celebrated in their society. Easily swayed, younger people imitate celebrities in society. Hence, the quality of the character of what society celebrates as chastity largely determines the level of sanctity of her youth. The totality of the environment is the packet determinant of the level of moral decadence. No single factor may be singled out if the lost moral rectitude would be restored or in the least, jerked up to the reasonable minimum.

 

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