We have a 'generation of horrible kids', says educational psychologist after Themane murder

Thoriso Themane died on Sunday after allegedly being beaten by a group of school children in a park near his home on Saturday.
Thoriso Themane died on Sunday after allegedly being beaten by a group of school children in a park near his home on Saturday.
Image: Twitter/@Biso_Raph

“Kids don’t have joy anymore.”

This is according to educational psychologist Ken Resnick, from Smart Choice Parenting. He was speaking to SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE following the arrest of five teenagers for the murder of Thoriso Themane in Limpopo at the weekend.

“There is a whole generation growing up of horrible kids. They’ve got no empathy. They’re only about themselves… They’ve got no grit and determination to really make it,” Resnick said.

“So there’s a whole lot of factors, but at the end of the day, parents [are] definitely not fulfilling their role in guiding children to become more independent, more self-sufficient, [to have] good self-esteem... so that when they’re up against peer pressure, they don’t give in to it.”

Resnick said children simply wanted to be accepted by their friends.

“Kids don’t have to have friends. They can connect through the computer to people they never meet [and] create their own subculture… They meet and they choose friends who are similar [to them].”

Resnick believes the problem starts with parents, few boundaries and children feeling entitled.

“There’s nothing they get really excited about, unless they get pissed [drunk] and then they’re with their mates and then they do inappropriate things.”

He added: “They’ve got this feeling that they don’t want to work. They’ll phone up and they’ll say: ‘Sorry, I’ve had a late night. I can’t come to work today.’ They all want to start and then be managing directors within two months...”

Resnick noted that parents had their own problems to deal with, such as financial, work and personal pressures.

“They want the kids out of their hair. They just let them do whatever they like very often.”

Unfortunately, by the time children are teenagers, it is too late, according to Resnick.

“Problems don’t just start when you’re a teenager. There are early warning signs… By the time they’re even 10, 11, you’ve just got to get tougher and tougher.”

He added: “Kids are born with passion. They’re born with the ability to persevere, but these days they don’t have to. Everything is done for them.”

University of Johannesburg educational psychologist Jace Pillay told eNCA that  children often mimicked what they saw.

“They come from families where there is a breakdown in family systems and values, and where violence becomes a norm. You find children grow up thinking it’s quite normal to be violent. It’s normal behaviour,” Pillay said.

“When they are in situations where they cannot react in any positive ways, they then use violence as a means of reacting.”

Clinical psychologist Hayden Knibbs told SABC that some individuals lost their identity within a group.

“They adopt the identity of the group… They start to view people outside of their group as not even people, which allows very, very extreme behaviours to occur, like excessive violence, even murder.”

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