Underage drinking still remains a serious concern in working class communities. Monday, 26 June 2023 marked a year since 21 teenagers died at Enyobeni Tavern in East London. But to date, no interventions have taken place to ensure this horrific incident never happens again.
Underage drinking has become a serious societal problem that is currently hindering the safety and productivity of children in working class communities. This issue is caused by the lack of youth recreational facilities that enables children to be critical thinkers, whilst keeping them entertained and safe at all times.
High number of alcohol outlets and taverns, compared to the very low or non-existent libraries and recreational centers in working class communities plays a huge role in initiating children to alcohol. More so when taverns are at every street corner.
In most instances parents in working class communities work long hours and find little or no time to spend with their children or understand what their children are going through on a daily basis,” said Mayidunyiswe Ngwaqa; also, a Youth Church leader.
“Young people struggle with self-esteem issues due to neglect from their parents,” added Ngwaqa, alluding to the fact that children are often left on their own. She went on to suggest this solitude, often leads them to drinking alcohol at a very young age. Adding that many children in this situation often see alcohol as a tool that makes them seen and “relevant” in their circles and community at large.
“Adults and parents sending underage children to buy alcohol at taverns is a factor that encourages underage drinking in our community,” explains Nosipho Jacobs; a motivator and youth mentor based in Thokoza.
‘Moreover, the current culture of influencers, who are often seen on TV advertisements and on social media platforms with expensive alcohol emphasises the lack of good role models for children in our communities,” adds Lindelani Matshange; a fellow church youth leader, elaborating on the vital role that “positive” role models play in informing children’s behaviour.
“To curb this problem, the working class has to come together to create a safe environment for children to learn and grow,” said Matshange. Community leaders, faith based organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in working class communities must organise and hold alcohol outlets accountable so that they adhere to alcohol age restrictions at all times.”
“Importantly, communities must work closely with the government and liquor board to reduce the number of alcohol outlets in our communities, this may reduce alcohol exposure to children prematurely.” Jacobs added before concluding, it is time that the working-class communities rebuild their communities with the interest of children”.
This article was submitted on 23 August 2023. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.