With the children in mind Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
November 2, 2001

CHILDREN on the streets anywhere, with no fixed place of abode, must be cause for concern and the announcement yesterday of the formation of a special task force to address the "serious issue" is a more than welcome development.

Children do not belong on the streets.

Each child ought to be brought up in the comfort of a home with the love and care that can come only from a family unit, no matter how deprived the circumstances.

Those robbed of such an environment suffer sometimes untold consequences and many drift out of mainstream society, unable to take their proper places.

Many poor parents struggle against extreme odds to bring their children up as best they could, with what little they have, to ensure they are not deprived of the essentials of a home upbringing.

These are dedicated parents who would endure anything for the good of their offspring.

But some kids are not that fortunate and find their home in the cruel world of the streets where they have to wrest an existence through their wits and devious means.

Children are forced on to the streets for a range of reasons - broken homes, cruel parents, economic circumstances and the authorities in any society would have to act when the numbers seem to grow.

Those forced to endure such a cruel fate usually end up following the only life they could, swelling the ranks of the criminals and adding to the burdens of the law enforcement authorities.

Former Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Mrs. Indra Chandarpal had done admirable work in getting a programme in place for moving children off the streets, including opening or improving facilities meant to provide some care for them.

The problem has, however, become alarming, as the authorities acknowledged yesterday and has to be addressed with urgency.

The appointment of four Cabinet ministers to the task force is a reflection of the seriousness with which the Government views the problem.

Some headway has been made with the campaign started last month against schoolchildren skipping classes and seen in numbers on the streets, particularly Georgetown.

The issue is multifaceted with Ms. Bibi Shadick, Minister within the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security yesterday indicating that some of those on the streets have homes.

The task force will be responsible for finding ways and means to reintegrate street children into the family and school system wherever possible and to provide programmes that would refine their social and emotional skills, while at the same time providing counselling to them and their families.

This is a laudable objective which deserves the support of non-government organisations, the church and other civil groups and it is to be expected that they will be part of the drive.

The future of the children is the responsibility of all and efforts to get those on the streets for whatever reason into a home deserve unconditional support.

Caring for the children is caring for the future of all.