Heart to Heart
Is your child safe playing in the neighbourhood?
Posted Thursday, October 17 2013 at 01:00
Faced with a choice between your child playing inside the house or compound where chances of them wandering away are few. Or letting them play within the neighbourhood and interact with other children, the decision is not as black and white as it seems.
Making good decisions is not as easy as preparing a meal. It is a dilemma for a parent to decide whether their child should play out in the neighbourhood. But it is something that should be discussed in light of the recent rape and eventual murder of nine-year-old Hanisha Nambi, in Kanyanya, Kampala.
The girl had gone playing with her sister in an abandoned house, some 15 metres away from their home. There, on a verandah, was where she was last seen alive. Currently the rape suspects are being held as further investigations are being carried out.
It should worry every parent. Should they permit their children to play, mix and mingle with children in the neighbourhood? Should you let your children out of the four walls as there are lots of dangerous situations happening in society today?
Besides raising children in a morally upright manner, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that there is maximum security around the home as one of the precautions to protect the family.
According to Christine Alalo from the Child Protection Unit of Uganda Police: “As a parent, there is need to provide adequate information to a child so they could protect themselves,” she said. Security of a home begins with both the parents and their children.
The general aspect of educating a child about the dangers of playing in abandoned houses is encompassed in letting the child know the need of being careful in the environments in which they play.
The good side of children being able to visit the neighbourhood is that it boosts their knowledge about certain matters in society. They get to know how certain things are done other than having an idle mind.
Esther Mbwali, a 23-year-old student at Uganda Christian University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in project planning and entrepreneurship, and, a parent of one, says, “It is very necessary for children to play in the neighbourhood as it keeps their mind active and busy without engaging in bad thoughts or acts. Mixing and playing with neighbours helps a child know how certain cultures do certain things and it also boosts their confidence.”
Yosia Kigongo, a mechanic in Kisekka Market, says: “Parents should permit their children to mix and mingle with others in the neighbourhood as it keeps them active.”
Rebecca Katende, the head teacher of Kiteezi Learning Centre, says, “It does not make any sense if children are kept in the dark and enclosed in four walls 24 hours a day, as it pushes them further to engage in acts such as rape. No wonder there is a lot of incest in Uganda today,” she exclaimed.
Why parents worry
The number of rape and defilement cases has steadily risen of late. The number of rape cases reported at police in 2012 was 530, compared to 520 in 2011, according to annual police crime report.
The number of suspects arrested and charged with rape in 2012 was 301, which does not even correspond with the number of cases reported at police. Further, the number of convictions is likely to be much less. It is such statistics that make parents afraid of their children wandering around the neighbourhood.
While the safety of a child rests in the hands of a parent, they should not limit them from having a little bit of fun because work and play is very good for a child’s upbringing. As Alalo points ou: “It is a child’s right to play.” As a good and responsible parent, do not stop a child from enjoying their rights for it is punishable by law.
Some parents, however, note that is not about allowing the children to play in the neighbourhood rather, it is about the conditions under which they play.
Striking a balance
Parents should know the kind of people they live with as well as those they live their children with. Phenny Wavua Kolyanga, a housewife and a resident of Namugongo, says she cannot let her children play with children in the neighbourhood, not until she is assured of the kind of neighbours that surround her family. It is thus, up to the parents to at times be blunt, bold enough and tell their children why they should not stray into the neighbourhood.
Setting aside specific times for your child to play can be one way of controlling children’s day- to-day activities in the neighbourhood. According to Kigongo, it is better for a child to play in the morning hours since afternoon is a time for them to rest their minds and bodies.