Posted Tuesday, March 22 2011 at 18:00 on http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/DN2/On+the+brink+of+a+disaster+yet+no+one+cares+/-/957860/1130842/-/view/printVersion/-/4nln10z/-/index.html
The young and the restless: In 2009, more than half of the inmates at the Industrial Area Remand Prison came from single-parent homes, according to a new report. Most were unemployed, had experimented with drugs and felt neglected by both the society and the state. Would they have turned out better had they received undivided attention?
The young man next door is most likely unemployed or in casual engagement, is religious but never makes offerings at his place of worship, may be into crime, alcohol or drugs, is almost certainly a registered voter, and is likely to die before he clocks 60 years.
And all this, according to a recently released profile of the Kenyan youth, can be blamed on the adults — especially the absent, abusive, or laid-back father —and a society that promised them a future leadership but failed to provide a safe landing.
Generation Y has been betrayed by fathers, employers, and even a post-Moi government that came to power on the promise of creating quality jobs for the youth
The profile, titled Youth Fact Book, Infinite Possibility or Definite Disaster and compiled by the Institute of Economic Affairs, says that, to beat benefits won by trade unions, employers, including the government, have resorted to casual employment.
“Most employers in Kenya, including those in the public sector, have resorted to the increasing use of casual, temporary, part-time, and contract workers to ostensibly reduce labour costs and exert greater levels of control over workers,” says the profile.
This is a major disappointment for young Kenyans, considering, as the survey has found, that half of them have job opportunities as their top priority, many times above their health or even the risk of death. (Health ranked below education, wealth, and income distribution or even political participation).
Youths, thus pushed into a corner, are overstaying their welcome in the family home, which undermines confidence and, in some instances, pushes them to crime.
Today, violent crime witnesses are most likely to tell of the involvement of “young, armed males”, and more than half of the crime in the country in being committed by males aged between 16 and 25 and, most likely, from a fatherless family.
The report, compiled by Katindi Sivi Njonjo for policy makers, is especially harsh on fathers who walk away from their offspring, and indirectly indicts the man for a spike in the crime rate in the country
More than half of the inmates at the Nairobi West Prison in 2009, for example, grew up without fathers, 10 per cent had abusive fathers, and 12 per cent had laid-back fathers.
Within the same period, 78 per cent of inmates at the Industrial Area Remand Prison grew up without fathers, eight per cent had abusive fathers and six per cent had passive ones.
“The role of a father is particularly important in determining the future wellbeing of a child,” says Njonjo, the study author who also calls for a rethink of the increasingly acceptable concept of single motherhood.
Citing experiences elsewhere, the author says students attending schools populated by a high proportion of children from single-parent homes are at risk of developing into delinquents.
Youth population, according to the last national census, constitutes 35.39 per cent of the total population. Those aged between zero and 14 years constitute 42.92 per cent, thus under 34s constitute 78.31 per cent of Kenya’s population.
In what may be of concern to religious leaders, the profile indicates that the participation of the 7-19 year-olds in religious activities decreases as they grow older, and that only those below 10 make a token offering at their places of worship.
About half of this age segment (7-19) will spend their pocket monies on snacks and sweets and, as they grow older, on airtime, cyber cafes, clothing, entertainment, alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs.
About 36 per cent of the older youths take alcohol, while 26 per cent smoke tobacco. Smoking among students is most prevalent in Nairobi and Central provinces, while among youths who are out of school, the vice is most common in Eastern, Coast, and Rift Valley provinces, in that order.
Alcohol abuse is highest among students in Western and Nairobi provinces, while bhang prevalence is highest in Coast and Nairobi.