fbpx

Increase in awareness reduces missing cases among children — Department of Social Welfare

BY: Augustina Tawiah
Increase in awareness reduces missing cases among children — Department of Social Welfare
Gifty Tepker — Manager of the Shelter for Abused Children

Missing and stranded children form the majority of children admitted last year to the Shelter for Abused Children under the Department of Social Welfare in Accra.

Of the 81 children admitted at the shelter last year, 44 of them, who are between four and 16 years old, were stranded and missing.

The other children admitted to the shelter within the same period were 31 abused children, six trafficked children, two children rescued from child labour and a child under custody.

The number of children admitted at the shelter last year was less than the 110 admitted for 2021.

The Manager of the Shelter, Gifty Tekpor, who disclosed this in an interview with the Daily Graphic, stated that out of the 81 children admitted to the shelter last year, they were able to reunify 64 of them with their families while for the 107 admitted in 2021, 81 were reunified with their families.

The breakdown for the figure recorded in 2021 is as follows: missing and stranded children, 72; runaway children, 20; abused children, 10 and trafficked children five.

She said some of the children had also been given out for fostering and they were working on getting some to be sent to residential homes, who would also draw a case plan for the next action for the children.

“Unlike previously, now we don’t keep the children here for long.

When they come, we start working on them immediately - We interview them quickly and when we get somebody who is financially stable in the family, we arrange with the person to plan the future for that child so we quickly send them back to their communities,” she said.

Shelter for Abused Children

The Shelter receives and treats cases of abuse of various forms with the police as the main source of referral.

Children are brought to the shelter for protection while investigations or court proceedings continue.

The children by the policy of the shelter have a period of three months to stay with the assumption that within that period, counselling and interviews with the victim should take place, the victim’s family could be traced and he or she could be re-united and re-integrated with family and within the same period, cases pending in court might have been completed.

The shelter shares its premises with three other institutions under the Department of Social Welfare that offer care and protection to children.

They are the Junior Girls Correctional Centre that assists in the character reformation and provision of vocational skill training to juvenile offenders sentenced to serve there; the Boys and Girls Remand Homes, established to give care and protection to boys who otherwise would have found themselves mixed up with adults in police or prison cells and the South Labone Girls’ Vocational Training Centre, which offers social service to females interested in learning vocational skills.

Reasons for the drop

Assigning reasons for the drop in the number of missing and stranded children admitted to the shelter in 2022, Mrs Tekpor said it was a result of the increased education they had been given on how people could take good care of their children and keep them well when they went out.

She said the festive season and election year were the times most children were admitted to the shelter and explained that during the festive season, most parents took their children to town to make purchases for them but in the process, they got stranded.

For abused children, the cases were sexual abuse and involved fathers taking advantage of the holidays to sexually abused their daughters.

On their difficulties, Mrs Tekpor said some families intentionally abandon their children so that they would be rescued and sent to the shelter and the rejection of some missing and abandoned children after they had been reunited to their families.