Street-children are becoming a growing phenomenon in our cities, particularly in Accra, and today’s lead story highlights how a number of children are on the streets fending for themselve, while their peers are in the classroom gaining an education.
Their plight is pitiful when you consider how these young, vulnerable beings are exposed to all manner of vices, not because they have weak morals but because they lack guidance, attention and protection. The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) estimates the total number of street-children in Greater Accra alone to be in the region of 90,000. The Ministry of Gender and Social Protection has a tall order if it is to screen and take data on the number of vulnerable children roaming the streets, trying to make life on their own.
Parents also need to be more responsible and plan families in such a manner that they can care for their offspring. The situation wherein they give birth indiscriminately cannot be accepted because it has a tendency of causing social problems for the state.
Thus, family-planning methods ought to be introduced wherever possible – particularly in deprived parts of the country where the birthrate is highest.
Research shows that social vices such as armed robbery, drug-abuse, prostitution and others can be traced to children who started life on the streets. Like many other social problems, streetism can be effectively handled. In the first place, public education is the major means of controlling streetism.
The Department of Social Welfare must be resourced to help in dealing with the growing phenomenon of streetism, since if care is not taken the problem will overwhelm us all and pose a national security risk with the growing high rate of unemployment.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that children are entitled to special care and assistance. Primarily, the family system – especially the nuclear family – is recognised as the fundamental group in society and the natural environment that ensures growth and well-being of all its members, particularly children. It is unbelievable, then, that the majority of street-children are not orphans but simply come from homes that cannot maintain them.