The other day, I literally witnessed myself growing old! I caught myself complaining about the "youth of today". And as soon as the expression "youth of today" escaped my lips, I realised I had taken one irreversible step toward becoming my father. I can literally feel a single grey hair starting to germinate in my left nostril right now.
So why was I bemoaning the "youth of today"? Well, one of my cousins is a teacher. We chat a lot on Facebook, and he was telling me how a young student in his JHS Two maths class had recently shocked him to the core. Her name is Rachel, and she's his top student - a brilliant young girl who always tops my cousin's maths class until she fell ill last term and missed several lessons. She came back just before an exam and did quite poorly for the first time.
Naturally, she was devastated. So what did she do? She walked boldly into my cousin's office, locked the door, stripped to her bra and panties, looked my shell-shocked cousin in the eye and told him he had two choices. He could either change her grade to 85%, or she would scream rape. She then added with a wink, that if he chose Option A, my cousin could have her right there on his desk.
Now, if you were my cousin, what would you have done? Share your thoughts on our facebook page.
Anyway, my cousin asked her why she needed this grade so badly. Her answer was an even bigger shock: "My Daddy says if I get all Grade Ones this term, he will take me to London for the Long Vac. I've already told all my friends I'm going to London, so I can't fail Maths. Sir, please make up your mind fast, or I'll just scream."
Now you have to understand, Rachel was a smart kid; extremely well behaved. Class Captain for two years in a row! My cousin would have been shocked by this conduct even if it had come from the worst behaved child in his class, but from Rachel, it just made no sense. She was standing in her underwear, calm and collected, and not at all worried about getting into trouble. She certainly didn't care that she was about to ruin the career of a perfectly good teacher who had always had her interests at heart.
It was at this point in my cousin's story that I let slip those three fateful words, "Youth of today…"
You see, one thing in particular struck me about Rachel. She had no sense of consequence. She wasn't worried about the negative effects of her actions on herself or her hardworking teacher. All she wanted was to be a bogga during the long vacation, and she didn't care who her actions would hurt as long as she got what she wanted.
This is something we see more and more in the choices our young people make today. Walk into an exam hall on any given day and you'll catch a couple of kids cheating - and giggling about it like it's nothing! Go to some churches today, walk into the Youth Ministry, and grab a mobile phone from any teenager's hands, and you'll find pornography of the most vile and vulgar nature. And i'm sure you've seen the Ejisuman SHS girls' video. I mean how do you post a video of yourself online, saying such shocking things, for the whole world to know you have a contraband phone with you on campus - unless you have no sense of consequence whatsoever?
Pick up a copy of the Ghanaian Times on any day, turn to page three and try to count the number of armed robbers under the age of twenty. Something has changed in the minds of young people today. And I know exactly what it is. It's the generation before them; their parents, their Uncles, their older siblings. It's us. You and I.
You see, we didn't realise it at the time, but when today's teenager was growing up, it was us they were watching. We were the only examples they had of how to behave. And what were we doing? We were jumping traffic lights, driving on the hard shoulder, paying bribes, stealing resources from work, flirting with someone else's man, and turning up late to everything. So what did we expect?
In this world, nobody asks to be made a role model, but we all are, whether we want to be or not. Whoever you are, whatever you do, someone is watching you. That someone thinks you know what you're doing, so the next time they find themselves in your situation, they will do what you did. Every time you turn up late, and you show no remorse, you're telling your child there is no consequence to doing the wrong thing. If you have your kids in the car with you this morning and you jump a red light, or use the hard shoulder, or break any other traffic law, please be aware, you are sending them a clear message that it's ok to do the wrong thing. As for bribing a policeman while your child looks on… well, in that one moment, you just might have turned your kid into a future armed robber.
My dear friend, children need to understand the consequences of wrongdoing. They need to see the right thing being demonstrated by the people they trust. They need to see that being good pays and being bad costs. And this is not the sole responsibility of parents. If you have younger siblings, if you work with kids, if you sell to kids, if you're a taxi driver or a TV presenter, or a Tuo Zafi seller, if you know a young person in any capacity, it is no less than your duty to show them a good example. If you don't, who will?
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I always try to be the best version of myself, because I don't know who's watching.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!