NTAZANA Simukonda, a 9-year-old Grade 4 pupil at Kachele Trust School in Lusaka, has asked parents in homes why they fight in the presence of children.
Meanwhile, Zambia Police Service public relations officer Esther Mwaata Katongo has regretted that children remain victims of different types of abuses and crimes in society, “as seen from the statistics of offences against children.”
Ntazana and Mwaata-Katongo were speaking during the commemoration of World Children’s Day at the Lusaka Civic Centre last week, Wednesday.
A confident Ntazana drew applause as he read his speech, flawlessly.
The commemoration was held under the theme: ‘Children of today; our keeps tomorrow.’
National guidance and religious affairs minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili represented the guest of honour, Vice-President Inonge Wina.
Ntazana started by saying: “this is our day; I mean our big day.”
“I’m asking our parents; why do you fight? As children we are affected. You can misunderstand one another; that we know. But why fighting? As children we are not happy when our parents are fighting.”
“Our homes are not meant to be battlefields. Our homes are for love, peace and happiness. If our parents differ, let them do it quietly without us children knowing about it. What are they teaching us if they fight?”
He added that, on behalf of his fellow children, they were saying no to Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
“We can end Gender-Based Violence by promoting positive change behaviours. World’s children’s day should be on the school calendar,” said Ntazana.
Another pupil, Clara Bubala, of Olympia Park Secondary School, lamented about child marriages in the country.
“On behalf of my friends, we are sad when we hear on TV and radio that our sisters, as young as 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 years, are married off by their parents, aunties and uncles,” said Bubala.
“We are innocent [and] we are supposed to be in school learning. Help us as children to fight child marriages and we we’ll win. We are not safe in our homes! Us children of today will keep our nation and our homes tomorrow.”
For Mwaata-Katongo, the theme reminded everyone that children were custodians of the future.
She noted that it was important that parents and leaders play a positive role in safeguarding the lives of children and also in securing and shaping their future.
“It is sad that our children continue being victims of various forms of abuse and crimes, as seen from the statistics of offences against children,” Mwaata-Katongo said.
She explained that in 2018, for instance, the Zambia Police Service recorded a total of 2, 578 cases of child defilement countrywide, representing 11. 7 per cent of the total reported GBV cases.
“Out of this number (2, 578), about 2, 574 victims were girls and the rest were boys. This year, from the first to the third quarter, we have recorded 1, 851 cases of defilement.
Gender-Based Violence related murder was at 49 cases, out of which 11 were children,” she said.
Mwaata-Katongo further cautioned children across the country to desist from engaging themselves in criminal activities.
According to Section 14 of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the laws of
Zambia, any person of or above the age of eight years is criminally
responsible; can be arrested for any crime.
“So, don’t steal your friend’s pen, don’t steal relish, don’t steal money,” advised Mwaata-Katongo, adding that there were children who have been convicted before for thefts, assaults, unlawful wounding, affray, malicious damage to property and threatening violence.
Meanwhile, Rev Sumaili said children were special.
“It is time for every child to have every right,” said Rev Sumaili, but was quick to note that children’s rights came with responsibilities.