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.