As part of the global “takeover” on World Children’s Day today, Unicef in partnership with Independent Newspapers invited some local youth to write their own articles for The Star, in which they shared their views and hopes. Pictured with The Star’s multimedia reporter Khaya Koko, right, are Nkanyiso Zulu, 14, from Katlehong Technical High School; Michelle Selemela, presenter for Alex FM Radio, back right; and Gabriel Tsheola from E2SYNC, back left. Picture: Rebecca Hearfield / UNICEF
Johannesburg - Today marks the United Nations Universal Children’s Day. Established in 1954, the day is celebrated every year on November 20.

With the plethora of challenges facing today’s children, The Star yesterday hosted some youngsters at its offices as part of the #KidsTakeOver global theme, which encourages children’s participation in the media, politics, business, sport and entertainment, and for kids to voice their support for millions of their peers who are out of school and are displaced and unprotected in society.

While the kids wrote articles and contributed to the production of the newspaper, this is what they had to say in their own words:

Gabriel Tsheola, a presenter of a youth show at Alex FM:

The challenge I face in my country and in my immediate community of Alexandra township is that the youth are neglected and only paid attention to on special occasions such as these.

During this year’s Children’s Day, with the country facing a high unemployment rate among the youth, I would ask the government to invest in us and give us more opportunities that will come in handy when we seek employment.

Nkanyiso Zulu, a pupil at Katlehong Technical High School:

Our schools have become a haven for drug pedlars. Learners often smoke dagga and cigarettes. The sad part is that our teachers can do nothing about it. Learners who smoke or take drugs basically have no bright future. I think the situation at these schools ought to be managed so that we could have leaders of substance in the coming years.

Michelle Selemela, 16, presenter for Alex FM Radio:

Drug abuse is a big thing for us young people because every young person does it to fit in and some do it due to them having problems at home. Furthermore, focus is always placed on adults, and young people never have a voice when it comes to pertinent decisions about the country.

The government has a big role to play in bringing about better education that will ultimately change our lives. All we want is to be the change the world would love to see one day.

Hope Sebeko, 16, a producer for a kids’ show at Alex FM:

Cyber-bullying is a sensitive issue which affects most teenagers in South Africa. This is when teenagers receive messages, videos, and even audios of an offensive nature which can also be seen as sexual harassment. I feel that the government should take a stand and implement stricter regulations controlling the usage of the internet, but mainly sites teens have access to.

Banele Famo, a pupil at Nageng Primary School in Vosloorus:

Bullying happens anywhere and at any time. We have learnt as children that speaking up is the best option.

Teenagers who go through bullying do not usually speak about their situations; this can lead to depression and them committing suicide. So I personally think people around the community should make children, especially teens, aware that speaking up and reporting bullying can prevent them from going through a hard time.

The Star