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Garth Rattray | It's back-to-school time!

Published:Sunday | September 10, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Yup, it's back-to-school time once again, and while some kids absent themselves altogether, others are only present in body, but absent in heart and mind. Some are swept away by an avalanche of raging adolescent hormones that surge unopposed within their bodies. With no religion, community, family or parent to anchor them, they are carried away on a tumultuous wave of fiery emotions that make them burn with desire for sexual appeasement.

Others become embedded with criminal gangs in their desperate search for a strong father figure and a sense of belonging.

Yet others can't focus on academia while living under the repressive and terrifying control of criminals that exert control over innocent citizens who they see as mere pawns, tools and shields. An indeterminate group of impressionable students lack the self-confidence to surge ahead with their studies. In their minds, they are fated to live in the shadows of 'society'.

Self-imposed psychological limits forever consign them to the roles of dependents and underlings; they are not able to lift their thoughts high enough to gaze upon the heavens and guide themselves to a better life. For them, school is only a transient, mandatory exercise in futility. They will do what they can in pursuit of a few 'subjects', but that is the greatest accomplishment that they can perceive.

Languishing, lost, lulled, living lustfully, lasciviously, lazily, limited, lesser lives. Their very rudimentary grasp of basic technology allows some to access the virtual world of the smartphone. They haven't mastered the skill to type one single sentence, but they can communicate with emojis and abbreviations now recognised as a new expression of language.

Many children are pressured into engaging into sexually activity way too early. Friends express disdain for the uninitiated and tease them into getting a sex partner. Then there are always groups of idlers that crave the company of others and recruit classmates to become one of them. Illicit drugs are always easily available to children and adult perverts are constantly lurking nearby to groom and capture youngsters.




There is no safe environment for any child. The best of parents cannot protect their children from everything and everybody. The parent's best weapon against losing hold of children is a loving, caring, disciplined and nurturing home. It's essential that no child be sheltered from the facts of life - that way, the risk of curiosity and experimentation will be significantly reduced. When parents dictate to children, some resist and some become recalcitrant. It's therefore best for parents to explain the reasons for their actions and to encourage their children to adhere to rules and regulations for their own good.

Schools provide the environment for teenagers to mix and mingle, and sometimes there are dire consequences to this. For my part, I endeavour to explain to youngsters that, at their age, sexual intercourse is a risky activity not worth taking. I tell girls that boys will say and do just about anything to get them into the sack. And I remind them that their only 'job' is to gain a good education. I explain that it forms the foundation on which they can build a life. And education is the only thing that they cannot lose, and no one can take away from them once they acquire it.

It's easy to spot schoolchildren who are posers and idlers - they are usually excessively neat and they constantly fix and preen themselves. They also spend a lot of time looking at themselves and they tend to walk in groups of children of like mind. Some stroll lazily on the streets hand in hand or hugging. Otherwise, you can see them engrossed deeply in talking on the phone or texting. In time, they will regret their waste of time and end up never achieving anything much in life.

Teachers only have a limited time to work with the material that our homes and communities send to them. The last miracle worker that I know of lived more than 2,000 years ago. It's up to parents, close family members, and the communities to mould our children into the responsible adults of tomorrow that our country needs.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and