By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online
Its an all too common sight in the buzzing nightclub scene of Port Moresby – Papua New Guinea’s largest and capital city, and the international gateway, where adolescents and teenagers party away into the wee hours of the morning amongst adults in exposed to environments that do absolutely ‘nothing positive‘ for their still-developing, young minds.
These adolescents and teenagers, highly intoxicated from alcohol, with no sense of control nor thought of the unforeseen dangers they’re being exposed to, freely engage themselves in activities that would easily cause anyone in their right mind to cringe and look on in pity and disgust, at tomorrow’s would-be leaders of the nation.
But what seems all the more frightening, is that despite the knowing of underage children being let into nightclubs, authorities continue to look on in silence as our youth continue to plunge deeper into society’s rot that exists and thrives in illicit activities; one such being, the child sex trade.
Girls as young as 14, continue to be employed by nightclubs, most of them owned by Asians as studies reveal, acting as hostesses to lure male patrons and keep them spending significant amounts of money at the club’s bar.
The girls are then caught up into engaging in sexual activities with these men, often old enough as the girls’ own fathers or grandfathers; putting the young girls in greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections or worse, HIV/AIDS. With both parties often being consumed entirely by alcohol, the likelihood of having unprotected sex is higher.
Not only are girls engaged in such activities, fuelled by the rising cost of living in cities like Port Moresby and the need to earn cash, but trends have also shown that teenage boys are also being drawn into the sex trade circle.
But the question remains; what are the authorities doing to curb the urban trend of underage children being let into nightclubs, and stop the child sex trade rampant in the city?
Some time back, PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill announced that all nightclubs should shut down by 2am and no later; however, clubs, even the most prestigious, continue operating until 4am, sometimes 5 in the morning.
Standing outside these clubs at closing time, one can easily see the stumbling figures of drunken teenagers emerging from the clubs.
The environment for which nightclubs thrive to create, are beyond anything that adolescents and teenagers should be exposed to.
Similar to how a simple washcloth or sponge soaks water, so too does the young and developing mind of a child ‘soak up’ everything he or she sees around them, at any given time.
Places for adults should be kept out of bounds from children, and experts say that authorities should now begin to introduce much, tougher measures to control and monitor nightclubs and to impose tougher penalties for club owners and staff who are in breach of laws.
Checks on identification cards should also be done and nightclubs should turn away adolescents and teenagers; and discourage illicit activities that only contribute to society’s immoral decay and the many social and health problems of PNG.
Studies have also shown that parents must also take more responsibility over the wellbeing of their children and refrain from encouraging underage drinking or clubbing, and giving direct or indirect consent to their children being exposed to such activities that could have any devasting effects on their lives.
Parents and guardians, also have a bigger responsibility to ensure that the home environment is safe and conducive for a child’s upbringing; research has shown that children with parents who consume alcohol more than the average human being, are more likely to follow their parents behaviours.
Research has also shown that children with parents who are avid gamblers, are most likely to engage in gambling as well; so as children who are exposed to high levels of violence in the homes, who grow up thinking violence is ‘a normal part of life’ and in turn, become very violent people in society.
Studies have shown that boys who grow up watching their mothers being physically abused by their fathers, are more likely to do the same to their wives, when they are married. And so the cycle of violence continues.
Taking responsibility for your actions, and living by example will help to contain problems associated with young Papua New Guinea’s. Furthermore, support and encouragement is needed to enhance the positive physical, mental and emotional growth of a young person.
Respective communities must take the lead in encouraging young people to lead healthy and safe lives and to become decent citizens of this nation. More emphasis must be placed on extra-curricular, youth and religious activties such as youth groups, Sport, dance, singing or drama groups, book clubs, debate teams, community-work groups, among other avenues to keep the youth busy and away from engaging in underage clubbing, underage drinking and the child sex trade.