One unpleasant observation in Ghana today is that hardly a day passes without seeing children on the streets. Such children include those who have been subjected to abuse such as severe beating and starvation in their homes and have found solace on the streets. Some of them meet other children of the same fate and engage in menial jobs such as selling ice water as a means of livelihood.
This unfortunate development is fast eroding the image of Ghana as the safest and most peaceful nation in the sub-region due to the problems associated with streetism.
What caused this shift from home to the streets and what can be done to grind the wheels of streetism to a halt?
Health problems are major problems of street children in Ghana. Streetism exposes the children to a lot of health problems and other hazards. The children work in unconducive environments and they are vulnerable to defilement. Sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Syphilis and gonorrhoea as sexual abuse becomes a reality.
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Aside these, those who sell on the streets stand the risk of being run over by moving vehicles. Moreover, teenage pregnancy is also a major problem of street children in Ghana. Teenage girls are often lured and raped by irresponsible men on the streets. Those who become pregnant in the process and are unable to cater for the needs of their children, end up offering sex for money.
Most of these children become school dropouts and engage in economic activities to earn a living. Some of them simply enjoy work and cannot combine their economic activities with academic work.
Increase in social vices is another major problem of street children in Ghana. Children who find solace on the street often join gangs who introduce them to social vices. Research shows that social vices such as armed robbery, drug abuse, prostitution and others can be traced to children who started on the streets.
Like many other social problems, streetism can be effectively handled. In the first place, 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.
Rehabilitation is also one of the ways through which streetism can be solved. There should be rehabilitation for girls who become pregnant after they are delivered of their babies. The government should task the Department of Social Welfare to train teenage girls after they have given birth.
This training programme will enable the girls to acquire skills in hair dressing, banking and others to enable them earn a living.
Last but not the least, the government should promulgate a legislation and enforce laws to stop the activities of street children .