A leading children’s rights body in Malawi, Eye of the Child, has condemned some parents’ tendency of exposing children to drug and alcohol abuse.
Eye of the Child executive director Maxwell Matewere said in an interview on Wednesday some parents in rural and urban households send their children to buy them beer and cigarettes, something that puts them at risk of abusing the commodities.
“Parents should respect the law that restricts any form of participation of children under the age of 18 in [beer drinking]. Companies should do a lot of civic education to their customers on the negative effect of exposing children to beer and cigarette,” he advised.
Matewere said children who are involved in the drug and alcohol abuse do not perform well in school.
“Eye of the Child, being an advocacy and legal organisation, is continuously lobbying government and companies to strengthen the monitoring of restriction laws.
“Our work also includes public education and monitoring the restrictions. With the new law of Child Care, Protection and Justice Act, we shall collaborate with government to prosecute any parent found exposing children to smoking and alcohol,” said Matewere.
Esmie Tembenu of the Child Justice Court said she is aware of the challenges that children are facing in the country.
“Parents have a legal duty to ensure that they are providing maximum protection to their children. They have to respond to all issues where they see that their children are exposed to abuse.
“They have to protect their children from neglect, violence, abuse, exploitation, and exposure to physical, mental, social and moral hazards,” she said.
Tembenu said children who are exposed to beer, cigarettes and condoms become drunkards, smokers and sex maniacs, adding that their mental development is totally damaged and they also become troublesome.
“Mind you, when children are growing, they always want to practise what they perceive with their senses,” she said.
Tembenu said children who fall victims to any type of abuse should report to the nearest organisation, parents, guardians and other relatives.
Section 21 (4) of the Constitution states that children are entitled to protection from economic exploitation or any treatment, work or punishment that is likely to be hazardous, interfere with their education or be harmful to their health or to their physical, mental or spiritual or social development.