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How can positive parenting help in areas where gang violence is prevalent?

Feedback From A Facilitator!

By Eugenie Probst

A partner of CWBSA implementing the Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) Teens programme in Cape Town is the Manenberg People´s Centre (MPC). The Centre offers different programmes for the community. On a daily basis, the community feeding reaches over 200 people plus 68 people who are part of the targeted feeding programme. MPC also offers a weekly youth club, senior programmes several days a week and two types of parenting programmes. C., a community development assistant at MPC and also a facilitator of the PLH Teens programme, talked in an interview about the challenges of the community and how parenting programmes can help to overcome them. As she was raised in Manenberg and lived there for most of her life before moving to Mitchell´s Plain recently, C. knows the community well.

“Gang violence is one of the biggest challenges in Manenberg. Community members have to be aware of that when moving around. Youngsters get involved in gangsterism at a young age, usually combined with dropping out of school due to financial problems. As they are young they make wrong decisions and once they are in gangsterism, it is hard to get them out.”

But, what are the benefits of parenting programmes for the community?

“Parents mostly don´t know how to deal with their children, especially if it comes to drugs and abuse. Furthermore, many young parents were abused when they were children, so they believe that abuse is acceptable. First, it is important that parents learn how to deal with their children. They have to understand that a child does not feel sad because it wants to feel sad, but because something happened to her or him. The programme focuses on how to create an understanding relationship with teenagers. Teens have their own mind-set and they are living in their own world, so parents are unsure about their wants and needs. The programme creates a relationship where you can speak openly with your teen and get open answers from your teens. On the other hand, it shows teenagers that…they can also have their say – in a respectful way ”

-Referring to when she grew up, C. mentions that teenagers did not have the opportunity to say anything. They were supposed to listen and obey. Parents would shout and not want to talk to their kids. PLH Teens instead goes more in-depth with the aim of creating an open parent teen relationship.

“It shows how you can get answers out of your child by asking specific questions. Parents and teens learn to sit together and talk in order to understand each other. During the programme they can practice at home and come back for support.”

How can those benefits be linked to the issue of gang violence in the community?

“The PLH Teens programme will have “a repel effect into the future”. It might not have an effect now because we just started to implement, but in a few years’ time, it will come more automatically how parents deal with their child, they will know what the aims and goals of their teens are and the parents will be more supportive when they have this fruitful relationship with their teens. Things will start to change because teens will know how to speak with their parents, teens will know I can go to my mom and tell my mom what happened to me. Whereas now things happen with the teens, but they don´t have the courage to speak to their mother because their mother never has time for them, their mother´s always busy, their mother´s always on the road looking for money and food. But what the teens don´t know is what the parents go through on a daily basis… And it also changes their whole mind-set.”