Street children: A blessing or a menace?
The Editor, Sir:
As I walk through the streets of May Pen, my heart is heavy as children walk up to me asking "Miss, mi a beg you a $20." My usual response is "Where are your parents?" and the echo of "at home" is the most disturbing answer yet.
Why are there so many children on our streets? There appears to be an increase in the number of children seen in May Pen begging or selling. Most of them are not accompanied by adults and, as such, become preys to paedophiles and child abusers.
Many of them beg for money to go to school or for a late-evening meal. Many are often attired in school uniforms. There are others who do not attend school and can be seen every morning and evening begging or selling.
Breakdown of values
Is this a consequence of an economy in recession? Or is this a reflection of the breakdown of societal values? Where are the law enforcers or child-protection agencies when children as small as five years of age are seen begging and selling in the streets?
Whose fault is it that many of these children are now viewed as menaces or eventually become so? Nightly, news broadcasts show pictures of missing children. When will we do something about the children on our streets who may also soon be missing?
More should be done to ensure that our children do not become a menace to society. Proper parental skills should be taught to those who lack such, and parents of the children who are caught selling or begging on the streets should be prosecuted and enrolled in a family skills programme.
All street children cannot be housed in juvenile centres and, as such, Government must invest in improving our values and mores and resocialise the nation's parents. Family-planning campaigns should be implemented, showing the penalties parents will incur for being irresponsible. Without such an intervention, a cycle of violence will be reaped from the same garden where these seeds were sown.
We have a responsibility to ensure that God's creations remain blessings and not a curse to our society. Let's change the way we grow our children. Let's help to change our future homeland, Jamaica.
I am, etc.,
Knox Community College,