Shame of drunk parents

2014-04-14 00:00

WITH police gearing up for Easter traffic roadblocks this weekend, a recent survey has revealed that Durban has been rated as the city in the country with most children reportedly witnessing their parents or adults drink driving.

The independently-commissioned Santam survey found that 21,4% of children surveyed in the city have been in a vehicle with their parents after they had consumed alcohol, as compared with nine percent of children in Cape Town and 11% in Johannesburg.

Research was conducted with 378 children in Joburg, 328 from Cape Town and 294 from Durban, with the aim of understanding how South African children understand safety and what they learn from the adults around them.

Donald Kau, spokesperson for Santam, said that the high rate of drink driving that had emerged from the Durban sample was extremely worrying.

“As a whole, the research points to a very disconnected situation. Of the total sample, 77% of the children surveyed believed it is was never okay to break a rule. In fact, children from Durban are most emphatic about rule breaking with 85% of them believing that there are no times when breaking rules is okay. But 60% of the total sample had seen adults break their own rules.”

Educational psychologist Anel Annandale said that regardless of which province they live in, the scary truth is that children who observe reckless driving behaviour from their parents are very likely to copy these poor driving skills in the future.

“Children learn best by observing others. Not only does driving recklessly place our children under emotional stress which may contribute to feelings of anxiety, but it may also affect their ability to make better choices in the future,” she said.

Police are also hot on the heels of those disobeying road rules.

eThekwini Metro Police said that they could not argue with the figures released by the study as police had found a high prevalence of parents or adults being caught drunk driving while in the same vehicle as children.

“We find that adults that were caught drunk driving with children in their vehicles were normally coming from social functions or family gatherings and there is a high prevalence due to the recreational activities in Durban.

“People are going to the beach with their families and driving home drunk. In the cases of cities where there is a high prevalence of drunk drivers being caught with children in their vehicles, it is important to note the social aspect,” he said.

Msomi also added that the metro police were gearing up to monitor the influx of visitors from around the country over the Easter weekend.

“We find most of the drivers that are caught for drunk driving … [are] visitors from other parts of the country.

“We are prepared for the weekend to come, monitoring the city’s roads and setting up roadblocks …

“So far we have been very successful in catching drunk drivers and we have put plans in place.

“The numbers have been encouraging so we are sure that this weekend will be positive,” he said.

IN their own words, Durban children feel very vulnerable when their parents drink and drive or break other road rules:

n “I feel very frightened and think that this would cause an accident. If he drinks while driving as he normally does when he fetches us from school in the afternoons, he will lose control of the vehicle and cause accidents and a lot of school children can be killed.” 9-year-old, Durban.

n “He was driving drunk in the morning and hit my little sister while we were going to church and I feel very scared and not safe … because we were going on the right side of the road,” 11-year-old, Durban.

n “Angry, I get a bit nervous. I feel I’m turning into the red Hulk, I get cross,” 7-year-old, Durban.

youngsters traumatised

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