PAPUA New Guinea, as a young, developing nation, needs productive and effective young people.
As we can see there are many children roaming around the streets of Port Moresby and Lae selling imported products.
Our foundation and future human resource of this nation have been spoiled.
Whose fault is this? Government, parents or the kids themselves?
The causes of this phenomenon are varied, but are often related to domestic, economic, or social disruption, including, but not limited to, poverty, breakdown of homes and families, political unrest, acculturation, sexual, physical or emotional abuse; domestic violence, lured away by pimps, internet predators or kids run away due to problems with their families.
The street children in PNG may be grouped into four categories:
- Children who join their friends on the streets during the daytime and return home;
- children who work on the streets and return home;
- children who work and live on the streets; and,
- Sex workers (young girls engaged in prostitution).
Most children on the street, however, are those engaged in some kind of economic activity ranging from begging to petty theft and prostitution.
While walking through the shopping centres in Port Moresby and Lae, one might easily see children as young as seven and eight years old either begging or vending or just simply wandering around aimlessly during school hours.
One wonders what the future holds for these young children and what does it mean for the nation?
Although, they are psychologically “down”, they seem to enjoy what they are doing in the streets.
A few churches and non-governmental organisations like the Port Moresby Foursquare and the Port Moresby City Mission have provided some hope for the street children by providing food and giving them necessary technical skills in agriculture, mechanical and other aspects.
The government through its Department of Community Development has not addressed the issue in any tangible way. Clearly, there is a need for some kind of policy and action plan for the street children in PNG.
To ignore them and do nothing is to ignore the children of PNG who have a claim to education, food, clothes, shelter, freedom and security. They are certainly a threat to the nation.
When the street children realise that they do not have any means or sources of livelihood, the only available alternative is to be involved in major criminal activities like bank robberies to survive. In fact, it has been reported that some of the major crimes committed in the country are by young people, once street children.
However, I recommend the current law amended by government through the Department of Religion and Community Development to punish parents who are not responsible for their kids’ education and welfare.
As patriotic citizen, I want the government to successfully implement the law.
Foreign business houses who are engaging these kids must be fully investigated and if found guilty their business licence should be confiscated and they should be deported to their country.
Nason Mul Slo, Port Moresby