BY: Tracy Arthur
Streetism is a worldwide socio-economic problem and vulnerable children continue to be affected greatly due to some personal and family-related reasons.
These children have to work tirelessly to make ends meet in order for them to survive on the streets. However, there is an alarmingly increasing number of children living either partially or permanently on the streets of Accra, purposely to make ends meet.
Unfortunately, these children are sometimes forced by their parents to be on the streets for survival. The main cause of the growing population of young people living and working on the street is poverty. Poverty is the main cause and acts as the driving force and reason for many children spending their days and in many cases, their night living and working on the streets, in an absolute squalor and degrading circumstances.
Streetism exposes children to a lot of health problems and other hazards. These children are at considerable risk and are likely than other children to suffer from a serious physical injury due to accidents associated with being a street child.
Children in the streets lack all forms of security and easily fall prey to any possible harmful people. As a result, they are at a greater risk than other children with regards to being physically and sexually abused by strangers and pass Byers. These results in preventable problems such as unwanted pregnancy which further exposes street children to a lot more health hazards and sometimes death.
Streetism can be prevented by providing housing, health, nutrition and ownership of consumer food have improved among poor families yet neglect persists. Transferring financial resources to poor families increases their health and happiness but fail to reduce the incidence of neglect. Humiza, a young girl from Zabzugu in the Northern region says, she is currently a street child because there is no money to enable her further her education and as such she is on the street to make a better life.
Waja Gifty, also from the Northern region who had completed SHS says, her family isn’t supportive because there is no money to assist her and that is why she finds herself in the streets of Accra.
“There’s no money for me to further my education. My parents don’t support me but rather ask money from me since I’m selling. I have friends I stay with and every week I pay GHc10.00 for the rent. I have no hope and this work doesn’t pay well. I’m working to earn money in order to further my education” she said.
Rukayatu, also from the Northern region who is an SHS graduate works tirelessly to earn money in order to further her education even though she stays with an elderly relative; her uncle.
“There’s no money for me to further my education. My parents don’t support me so my uncle and his wife are the people I’m staying with. I want to further my education so I’m working very hard to make money to further my education and if there’s a chance for me to work to earn profitably, I’m willing to work because being a head potter is very stressful” Rakayatu said.
Public education is the major means of controlling streetism in Ghana. Through public education, parents, guardians, children and everyone will become aware of the effects of streetism on the development of the child.