Lockdown: How peer pressure is pushing students to vices
Mirriam Madiye Features Writer
Covid -19 has altered most facets of life globally.
In Zimbabwe, the education sector, too, has been affected. With increasing Covid-19 cases, Government had no choice but close all schools as a safety measure.
To ensure continuity, Government introduced the concept of online learning so that students continue with their education while safe at home.
While some students are doing online lessons, others who cannot afford data or are just not interested are now involved in various social vices.
When The Herald went around some high density residential areas around Harare, teenagers of school going age could be seen moving around in groups in defiance on lockdown regulations.
Others were playing soccer money games others just roaming around shopping centres in groups of eight.
In Mbare, 15 year-old Tinashe, one of the teens interviewed said his parents cannot afford to buy data so he just spends the day either at his friend’s house, or at Mbare Musika.
But, his friend Malvern (15) said Tinashe’s parents gave him money to buy data, but he used the money to buy marijuana.
“That’s why he comes to our house to use my data because he bought dagga with the money his mother gave him. He does not want her to know he used the money for other things,” said Malvern.
Probed further, Tinashe said he was not interested in online lessons as they were “boring.”
“The teacher just concentrates on some students and I just do not like his voice. I am not good in class and I think he hates me. So sometimes I just take my dagga,” he said with a grin.
In Glen Norah, a parent Mr Victor Mpofu, said Covid -19 has drastically changed the behaviour of some teenagers.
“As a result of spending most of their time unoccupied, these children have involved themselves in illegal activities. They now spend most of their time roaming around streets,” said Mr Mpofu.
He added that peer pressure pushed some of the students, especially boys, into administering illegal drugs and binging on illicit brews like musombodiya.
Some girls, he added, also because of peer pressure are now involved in relationships with older men almost their fathers’ ages for fun and money.
He said most teens are now uncontrollable and rowdy.
“They forget that what they are doing now has consequences in future,” said Mr Mpofu.
Another parent, Mrs Rutendo Mafa of Budiriro said Zimbabweans should continue to stay at home and follow other non-pharmaceutical methods of Covid -19 prevention so that the country gets back to normal and schools reopen.
Reopening of schools, added Mrs Mafa who is a pastor’s wife, will keep such teenagers occupied as they will be busy with schoolwork.
“We are noticing a lot of behaviour change in our communities. There is so much peer pressure in the communities and some children who were well behaved have changed so much,” she said.
She revealed that through online interactions with the youth, they have been offering counselling services.
“Some are changing after talking to them but we still have a lot of work with others. We keep encouraging them to continue with their education even if schools are closed,” she said.
A secondary school teacher only identified as Mrs Moyo also bemoaned the behaviour by some students.
She said while other students are utilising their time well by doing online lessons to catch up on lost time since they did not learn much last year, others, even those whose families can afford data and extra lessons have decided to be naughty.
“Some students are helping their parents and guardians with household chores. However, others are being involved in illegal things like stealing, smoking and unsafe sex,” said Mrs Moyo.
She said as a result of pregnancy, she heard that some girls have dropped out of school while others have eloped.
“The problem with these children is that they no longer give education the importance it deserves.
“One wonders what kind of future a dropout child will have? Children should know that education is the backbone of everyone and that they should utilise all the time and resources available for their own good,” Mrs Moyo added.
Schools were supposed to be opened on January 4, but because of the increased Covid-19 cases just after Christmas, government deferred reopening indefinitely.