Neglect comes at a cost

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Let’s think about our children for a moment. Looking at what has been unfolding before our very eyes on the streets of Apia at the beginning of 2017, it’s disturbing. It’s time to sit down and ask ourselves some questions.

We accept that the number of children in question on the streets of Apia is a minority. But can we continue to go in this direction? Should we pretend that everything is fine and dandy when these things are happening before our very eyes threatening law and order in this country?

As a community, we cannot be ignorant. These young kids will only grow up to become criminals if nothing is done now. That much we know.

Which brings us to some of those questions we want to think about today in relation to the children of Samoa.

As a country, what do we see in their future? How have we, as parents, guardians or role models, influenced their lives for the better – or worse? What can we do today to ensure our children grow up to be the best they can be? 

There are more questions. But let’s look at the first two. 

We all know that parenting can make or shape the lives of your children. We also know that is up to us parents to shape them into better people.

One way of doing this is through leading by example. Far too often, we parents are the worst hypocrites in the eyes of our children. We tell them one thing and we turn around and do the complete opposite.

Take food for example. We cannot espouse to our children the value of healthy living and continue to eat junk before their eyes. That’s bad parenting.

We are often told that children mirror their parents. And that’s very true. It’s why people always become the product of the environment they grew up. You cannot feed your children with rubbish and expect them to grow up not do the same to their children.

The point is that children look to their parents for good examples. And that’s why we need our homes to be a place where the young ones learn values that will set them up to be better people when they grow up.

We have often said that the root of the growing social ills in society today is the result of family values being lost. It is the result of dysfunctional homes. In some homes, there is no relationship between parents and their children.

The parents are either too busy or there is always something happening. The children therefore are neglected. They end up watching TV at all hours. 

Let’s not forget that some of the materials coming from that TV box are not good.  They are not designed for their young eyes. Yet that’s what children are being fed. And when they act up, we’re always quick to ask; where did they learn that? 

Neglect comes at a cost. So is being ignorant about what’s happening around us.

And in this country today, despite numerous laws, the growing number of children hawking goods on the streets is a real shame. 

What’s worse is that they’re everywhere and they are now becoming a real nuisance to everyone. Gone are the days when children vendors were only found in town. These days, they are at every corner where there is a shop and they’ve become quite aggressive. So much so members of the public are worried about their own safety. But who wouldn’t when you look at the behaviour they are exhibiting in public?

It’s now 2017. You see when we talk about Samoa today, we talk about progress, we talk about a country that’s doing very well, socially and economically. 

And that’s not a bad thing. 

Take a look at those impressive high-rise buildings lining Beach Road from Matautu to Sogi. Consider the respect we’ve earned as a country among our Pacific peers for being a leader in public and private sector reforms.

But then look deeper and you’ll find there is far more to Samoa beyond that facemask. This country is in morass of decadence where it looks beautiful from afar when it’s actually becoming rotten at its core.

And there is no better example of the rot than the sight of children roaming the streets of Apia at 3am beating up unsuspecting members of the public.

Something is terribly amiss when these young faces try to sell you something in the middle of the night when they should be sound asleep getting ready for school the next day.

Child labour is clearly a major issue. 

The question is why do some of the poorest families have so many children knowing very well they cannot afford to raise them?

The answer is simple. Parents lack the educational background that would have given them the chance to get good jobs, taught them how, and why, they should only have children they can raise.

But can we blame them completely. No.  

We agree that these problems are not found only in Samoa. 

But the fact that they are growing means this country has sat back for the past few years and pretended that all is well. 

We cannot do that anymore. We warn you again. Neglect comes at cost. 

And judging from what we’re seeing today, we fear what these children will do if they are allowed to continue uninterrupted.

What do you think?

© Samoa Observer 2016

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