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Parents need to give more attention to their children.

ACCORDING to a news report, a staggering 4,188 teenagers ran away from their homes from 2013 to 2016.

In 2016, the number stood at 1,803. These teenagers are aged between 15 and 19 years. Some are as young as 12. What drives them out of their homes?

A combination of circumstances and factors drive teenagers from their homes.

According to the report, peer pressure, following their partners, family misunderstanding and no interest in studies were among the reasons given by these teenagers.

There are “push” and “pull” factors that drive teenagers from their homes.

Frequent quarrels and misunderstandings in the home between husband, wife and children can lead to unhappiness and a disturbed environment at home.

Poor families, single parent families and dysfunctional families face greater challenges with growing children, who resent the home environment and atmosphere. This does not mean that children in rich families do not run away from their homes. Rich overprotective parents, who push their children to the limits in their studies and curb their freedom, run away to seek freedom elsewhere.

Latchkey children who fend for themselves because their parents are too busy making money run away from their home, seeking attention and love.

Parents play a significant role in the lives of their children.

When the home has no peace, freedom and love, the young teenagers will seek these elements outside the home. This is magnified when the children have no interest or inclination to attend school.

Peer pressure, partners and other external factors “pull” the children away from their homes. Troubled and unhappy children are easily influenced by their peers, partners and strangers.

These young children will be exposed to dangers and risks when they are away from home.

They can become involved in criminal and gang activities.

Some may become addicted to drugs, while the girls may end up as prostitutes.

This is a serious issue and concerned parties need to work together to resolve the issue.

Parents need to give more attention to their children. They need to monitor their children’s friends and movements.

They need to get involved in their children’s activities and create a conducive home environment for them to thrive.

The police, non-governmental organisations and schools need to increase awareness campaigns and programmes to educate children on the dangers of running away from home.

Religious organisations should remind parents of their roles and responsibilities in bringing up happy children.

Children should be given a channel to voice their problems and grievances so that they can be advised and counselled.

All stakeholders — from parents, neighbours to the community — need to play their roles to make the children happy. As the African proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child”.

Samuel Yesuiah

Seremban, Negri Sembilan

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