Should kids under 16 be allowed to visit Genocide memorial sites?


A group of children during a visit to the Kigali Genocide memorial last week. (File)


RE:Kwibuka23: Children commit to fight genocide ideology” (The New Times, April 10). My sympathy goes out to all those directly affected by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. But, what a comforting speech from President Paul Kagame (during the launch of the official mourning week last Friday)! The President reassured survivors that they are not alone; indeed, Rwanda is their family, we are their family!

I have some grave concern, however, on the issue of children and visiting memorials. I agree that children need to learn about this bitter truth. However, I feel strongly that children under age 16 should not be allowed to visit memorials under any circumstances.

Those slightly above 16 years need to be counseled prior and after to visit, and sometimes follow-up counseling to help them process this reality.

I believe the above could be done in a different place, given some children appropriate information/videos/films and with some counseling oversight.

Children tend to suffer nightmares and PTSD after being shown such images which may affect them negatively later on in life. I also recognise this would arouse some heated debate on how best to include Rwandan children in these commemoration activities at the national level and in our homes.

I would appeal to the concerned (CNLG/Minisante) to give guidelines on this.