The Herald (Harare)

8 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Potholes to Stay Clear of

column

Wednesday saw the return of many teenagers from their various schooling points to herald the beginning of the Christmas holidays. Thursday put the final lid on the third term as the day scholars closed to join the boarders for their holiday while the school leavers have already adapted to some new routines as they had an early lead to the holidays.

It should not come as new information that teenagers are very susceptible, most vulnerable and at the highest risk to fall in to the common vices that grip our society today. We have compiled a list of common potholes that teenagers should stay clear of this holiday so that they have wonderful holidays that are incident free.

Alcohol abuse

While most people will argue that there is nothing wrong with drinking beer this is a sure pothole that most teens should avoid and totally stay clear of.

The reasons as to why most people will excuse alcohol drinking are because it is seen as the least harmful substance and because it is easily, openly, and cheaply accessed.

The funny thing is that some parents will find no harm in beer drinking so much that they will even encourage their teenagers to try it out. This practice is especially common in father-son relationships, where at times a father will want to enlist the son in to a beer drinking partner or maybe because the father feels that beer makes the son macho.

Well, the hidden and most overlooked danger in beer drinking is that it opens up people to abuse of substances with more grave risks. Research has shown that most substance abusers will start with a lighter drug such as beer then graduate to more serious drugs. This is a danger especially to teenagers because they may not be able to manage their beer drinking habit and because of the obvious reason that they will not be able to support this habit financially once they get addicted. It is then better to just stay clear of alcohol and any other drugs.

Hazardous Adventures

Teens are generally adventurous by nature and their adventurous urge surges up during the Christmas Holiday. Parents become generally lenient and more relaxed during this period.

You will witness the extension of curfews and permission of previously forbidden practices. However, many teenage deaths and fatalities are reported during Christmas holidays than any other holiday of the year because of the adventures often taken by the young and the restless. Common adventures involve travelling to long distances without the knowledge and approval of parents, stealing family cars and driving off without the necessary driver's licence or driving experience, lake excursions that might involve boat cruising and late night fun. Just remember there is nothing wrong with adventure but all adventures should be safe.

Activities such as boat cruising can claim your life, as witnessed many times in our country before.

It is rather wise to undertake such activities with your parents who can assess the risk well before engaging in such activities.

Unsafe Sexual Relations

Puberty is the time when most develop sexually and this period comes with its hormonal issues that will make you feel a certain way you never felt before.

For most it will be surprising that they are beginning to have feelings for the opposite sex and that they are also beginning to desire the attention of the other sex.

That is normal you cannot suppress that because it's a natural stage which just signals a certain stage of life. However, the fact that you feel that way does not mean that you should act on it.

Be advised that this period could make or ruin your life forever. Teenagers out there need to be aware of the dangers that in most relationships they have at this age especially the girl. The demographic Health Survey of Zimbabwe has proved that most young girls' first sexual encounter was not consented to. In essence teenagers need to be aware of date rape, which is rape within a relationship by that trusted boyfriend.

Most rape cases always show that the rapist is usually someone known to the victim who could either be a boyfriend, relative, teacher, guardian or at times parent.

Try avoiding going to secluded places, dark places and places in the outskirts with an untrusted person. During parties never accept drinks from strangers, and never accept drinks that are not opened in your presence.

Some people are now lacing drinks with substances so that they drug their victim before proceeding to sexually abuse them when they are helpless.

Stay safe and enjoy your holidays.

Till next week guys, happy festive seasons and God bless you all.

Ciao . . .

The writer is a motivational speaker. He can be contacted on glendhliwayo@gmail.com.

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