In a recent statement issued in Monrovia, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection admonished parents and guardians of ‘street-selling’ children in Monrovia and its environs to take advantage of the Government’s free primary education package to keep their children in school.
The ministry indicated that with the government’s free primary education initiative, its expectation was that Liberian children would be afforded the opportunity of returning to school, other than being used as bread-winners for their families.
The statement was against the backdrop of an increase in the number of school-going kids selling in the streets, while regular academic activities were in progress. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection described the situation as very alarming and risky for the lives of the children.
It warned parents, guardians and caretakers against using children as bread-winners, others were in school, as those involved would face arrest.
In view of the foregoing, the ministry has set up a new regulatory mechanism to effectively monitor children in the streets, especially in Monrovia and its environs.
Even though the Gender Ministry did not state or detail the mechanism it said it has put in place, the mere fact that it is raising ‘eye-brows’ at the situation of street-selling children all over the place, such concern must be shared by all well-meaning Liberians and institutions, including civil society and religious institutions.
While some may think the move is ‘belated’, it is even better late than never- and that now is the time for, not only the Ministry of Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, but us all of the efforts and support in getting these children off the streets of Monrovia and its environs.
As we support the ministry in this drive, we are also of the strongest conviction that in the process of solving this problem, the ministry must begin with the ‘protective arrest’ of the street-selling children in order to understand their presence in the streets. Such exercise must be followed by the indictment, arrest and prosecution of those involved in suppressing their growth and well-being.
It is no secret that the presence of these children, especially those under age, is with the acquiescence of parents, guardians and care-takers- they are the root cause of the problem that must be first tackled.
Furthermore, considering the dangers associated with children in the streets, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection must not only rest at removing these children from the streets, but also ensure, in partnership with international children organizations, the necessary social welfare for them against further suppression upon their return to their undesirable ‘parents’, guardians and care-takers.
Justice would be done to these children of the intervention of the ministry goes beyond just arrest.