Accra, March 18, GNA - Mr Otu Asiedu Greater Accra Regional Director of Social Welfare Department has disclosed that about 61,492 children in Accra are victims of "streetism" that calls for a redoubling of efforts to fight its menace.
He said the government through the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC) and other agencies should invest their resources to eradicate streetism from the country, since the move would help to attract investors to Ghana.
Mr Otu said this at the launch of a book titled: “The Courage of Trust-Thoughts on reshaping the current machinery affecting street children in Ghana”, in Accra.
He attributed the increase in streetism to poverty, peer pressure, false perception of city life and irresponsible parenting, stressing that research findings in the book should be a wake-up call to agencies entrusted the responsibility to advocate against large family size and promote family planning.
“Most children, who find themselves on the street today, is because they have many siblings therefore their parents cannot cater for them. Ideally the streets are the only alternatives to seek refuge”, he added.
Mr Otu noted that although the past and current administrations had instituted machineries such as capitation grant, free school uniforms and free exercise books to curb streetism in the country, those mechanisms had not adequately addressed the problem.
He said government’s commitment towards the fight against crime must be reinforced by a fight against streetism, since the phenomenon is a major cause of armed robbery, prostitution and loss of national human resource.
Dr Mavis Gyeke, Head of Department of Social Work, University of Ghana, said the growing phenomenon of streetism should be of concern to every Ghanaian, adding that researchers and non governmental organizations established to fight against the menace should go to the street to access in-depth information on the plight of children.
Mr Kwadwo Addeah Prempeh Author of the book, who described himself as “a citizen of humanity”, said the gravest challenge facing the country was not flood taking over land and properties, or an outbreak of diseases, or the scourge of tribal conflict, but one that was capable of undermining the fabric of societal advancement.
He said one of the country’s most significant challenges had over the years been ignored, and therefore if nothing was done about streetism, the current generation might be the first to leave behind a weaker and fractured country than inherited.
“Day in out there are children on the streets in the centre of most regional capitals, towns and urban areas begging for money and work. Others shine shoes, wash windscreens of cars stopped in traffic, with others in small groups awaiting something to do”.
Mr Prempeh said it was the responsibility of every citizen, especially parents to fight against streetism, stressing that the fight should be a national fight devoid of tribalism and religious sentiments.
He said it was time for the government to institute policies that would redefine life and bring a sense belonging to children living on the streets as individuals who could be considered as the country’s rational and resourceful members.
The author noted that although he had outlined some solutions in his book which could be factored in government policies to curb the quandary of streetism, his solutions might not be the utmost best.
“I offer in my book something more modest, personal reflections on stories told to me by street children for which forms the underlying values and ideals that led me into undertaking such a course”, Mr Prepeh added.
The author said chapter one of his book provides an account of the lifestyle of children living on the streets, the daily experiences they faced on the streets, and the impact those experiences had on their daily activities.
He added that chapters two and three touches on the relationship between street children and orphanages, how they felt about orphanages in the country, stocks of the prejudices that street children face from the society and how they deal with those prejudices.
Mr Prempeh said chapter four revolves around Ghana’s juvenile justice system and its impact on the lives of street children, relationship between street children and stakeholders such as government, community, NGOs, and the role these stakeholders played in solving the problem.
“It is apparent that many years after Ghana’s ratification of the United Nation (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child, we still do not seem to possess a shared language with which to discuss our ideals on how the problem facing the street child could be dealt with, much less the tools to arrive at rough consensus on how we can transform those ideals into actions”, he said.
Mr Prempeh added that Ghana does not need a ballot to confirm that majority of Ghanaians were weary of the appalling direction streetism had taken, despite efforts some people had made to impose their own version of the truth, and that the picture out there was an eyesore.
The Author said children living on the streets had been subjected to physical and psychological abuses such as defilement, rape, child labour, child trafficking, and commercial sex of children, and urged all parents to take ultimate responsibility of their children.
Mr Prempeh is also the author of the books Redemption and Trouble in the Chorister’s Corner.
The launch was graced by Dr Kwaku Addeah, Former Director and Legal Advisor to the Bank of Ghana, Mr Asare Dapaah Lecturer University of Ghana, Mr Andrea Samadeni Switzerland Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Tan Chee Keong Counselor to the Malaysian High Commission and Mr Guy Amartiefio Greater Accra Regional Liberian, Ghana Library Authority.