Keeping children entertained becomes a challenge to most parents as there really is not much for one to do with children.
In the past, Blantyre, for instance, had places such as the zoo, museum and fairs which took place during holidays for children’s entertainment. Now all that is gone. Today, the entertainment ranges from taking children to places where they can enjoy rides, the cinema and live performances all which require a bit of money and possibly parents taking the children there.
According to research; patronising entertainment places where there are people smoking and taking alcohol can make children susceptible to drinking and smoking at an early age.
These entertainment places are mostly found to be hosts of live music performances by local bands and musicians.
Most often, these children, basically teens, get drunk and smoke in such public places as a way of fitting in.
Marko Bwanali, a parent from Blantyre who usually patronises live music performances at entertainment places in the city, said viewing antisocial behaviour happenihttp://mwnation.com/administrator/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=edit#ng at such places may not necessarily lead to its being assimilated; it may in fact cause repulsion to the youngsters.
“It is not most of the times that people practise the behaviour they see others practising at music shows or any entertainment place, sometimes these places might just be a good place where the youngsters get to know that such behaviours are bad and disastrous and need not be practised. For instance, the children get to meet heavily drunk people who cannot walk back home and this surely teaches them something positive,” said Bwanali.
Urban artist Evance Zangazanga (Piksy), whose music shows attract a lot of young patrons said it is not right for adults and children to smoke or drink beer at music shows because the shows are patronised by people of different behaviours but then, the norm is difficult to control.
“Controlling the drinking and smoking behaviour of people who come to music shows is very difficult, but the behaviour shouldn’t be encouraged,” said Piksy.
He said it is bad for the children who are still growing to watch such behaviours from adults who are supposed to be role models.
Music promoter Jai Banda said it is not advisable for children to patronise entertainment places where people are drinking and smoking as this has an impact on their growth and welfare.
“Children always look up to adults as their role models and when they patronise such places and see adults doing that kind of behaviour, they tend to think that is the norm,” said Banda.
Banda said it is very difficult for promoters to stop the risky behaviour most youths showcase at music shows because at some venues, for instance, hotels, alcoholic drinks and cigarettes are widely found as they are sold within the premises and even if they say youngsters should not enter the premises with beer and cigarettes, they still can access them.
“Some of the times, the youngsters bring their own beer in opaque bottles in the pretence that it is soft drinks or water. Mostly, we find that efforts to prevent the under-18 from coming in with beer or accessing beer has been fulfilled and a more disheartening thing happens when the children are given alcoholic drinks by adults who have full access to these items,” he said.
He said a regulation that people should not come to shows with beer and cigarettes is even difficult to set because that would be killing the business of the product manufacturers.
“What is required is civic education. The under-18 should be stopped from accessing alcoholic drinks and cigarettes in entertainment places and adults who do so should be responsible, noting that those places are filled with different people, some who do not even drink or smoke.
“Most importantly gospel shows and family fairs are more convenient for their age group otherwise they need parental control,” said Banda.