Citinewsroom, yesterday, published a story about the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Lariba Zuweira Abudu, urging Ghanaians to stop giving money to street children who beg for alms. She believes that streetism would be a thing of the past if everyone stopped giving money to the children, who are supposed to be in school with their peers.
The Minister said that the act of begging for money from unsuspecting members of the public was a big business for people who were only interested in taking advantage of others.
She observed that street begging had become a lucrative business for some parents, who were eager to push their children onto the streets to beg for alms. She advised Ghanaians to reconsider the culture of giving money to street children.
“It is not good to give money to school-going children. Why should I give money to a child who is supposed to be in school? So it is just business as usual. We, as Ghanaians, should also look at the culture of giving. If you don’t give, I don’t give, and after a week, the child will leave the street.”
The Chronicle agrees with the Minister’s stance on children begging on the streets. The givers of alms to the children are also to blame for the canker. The Beggars and Destitute Act of 1969 criminalises the act of begging, but like many laws in Ghana, there is little enforcement of the Act.
Child beggars are all over the streets in the major cities of Accra and Kumasi, and they solicit for alms in the full glare of the public. Around some areas at Accra Mall, some of the child beggars go to the extent of terrorising people for money.
Pedestrians, drivers and motorbike riders sometimes go through harassment at the hands of the children, as some of them forcibly knock on the windows of vehicles in a bid to get the attention of the drivers and occupants. In some instances, they also scratch the bodies of the vehicles with metals, stones and anything they hold in their hands.
There is little enforcement of the Beggars and Destitute Act of 1969, and it does not speak well of a country’s seriousness to make the national capital a place of law and discipline. There has been a growing influx of children from the Sahel Region into Ghana, who have taken over the streets and begging for alms as if there are no existing laws to curb the act.
The irony of the situation is that most of these children are of school-going age and the relevant authorities allow them to grow on the streets to become an albatross on society. This exposes how weak our social welfare system is and the constitutional mandate imposed by the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education is also not enforced.
Sometimes when the children are evacuated from the streets, they find their way back to continue from where they left off. The evacuated children must be helped to go back to their families, or sent to school, or made to undergo apprenticeship in vocational training. It is in this light that we call for a collective effort to help tackle this menace.