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The children in the street are everybody’s responsibility

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The children in the street are everybody’s responsibility - children 1 300x169 - The children in the street are everybody’s responsibility

“Street children are children experiencing poverty, homelessness or both, who are living on the street  of a city, town or village…”Wikipedia.

From this definition above, we can boldly conclude that some of these children ran away from home and live alone in the street and some of them spend most of their time in the street, fending for themselves especially when they have nobody to run to for help but sometimes, they return home regularly or when they feel like going home to see their people.

And in the same streets are children who live with their families too. They were born and bred in the street and the streets define who they actually are. These families live in abandoned buildings, damaged buses, shops or directly in the street.

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Some of them sleep in the bus and go their businesses in the morning only washing their faces with either sachet water or the water they have preserved in a gallon and sometimes, not even washing their faces. The street made them who they are and they, implanted the same traits that street created into these young ones.

In many of these cities in the world especially the developing countries like ours; these children have been subjected to abuse, molestation, and exploitation and killed by ritual men and women. Some of them have been exposed to ‘Ashawo’ or drug dealers because they have known the in and out of the streets and their surroundings. These children are fire and water at the same time.

They break and amend, they cause havoc and destructions in the same streets where they live. Some of them have been used by politicians for political purposes. They have been used as political thugs hence constituting nuisance in the neighbourhood. Even if these freedoms of being who they are mounted on the rubies and gold, the trials are the vintage to bringing them together as one.

However, these children are being transformed into problems either by design or default of their environments. They become victims of circumstances. They face challenges posed by society. Parental neglects, societal abandonment and many vital things which can make them leave the comfort of their home to the street.

These expected leaders of tomorrow face many lurking obnoxious. By default, their parents should be the caregiver but they, in turn, become the caregiver to themselves. They break and arrange themselves in a pattern which suits them to live in a country where their dreams are nightmares.

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They see the home as a prison. They become the criminals that torment us every night because we fail to see to their well being. They become those smokers that cause a nuisance in the streets. They blackmail society.

They become the touts that give the community bad names. Unfortunately, this group of people becomes incurable and irredeemable. When reviewing the consequence of these characters in our society, we would understand that most of the things we face now as a country are being caused by those children we failed to cater for when they were infants or when they needed us the most.

There are many of these children who were brought from the village by their aunties or uncles to Lagos or other parts of the country with the promise of sending them to school but they end up in the streets either as a hawker or doing something else for their madam or boss.

They have no choice than to live with the notion that things are going to be better for tomorrow. They hope and dream serving their bosses or their madams that things would change but nothing happens. However, when the situations get out of hand, they find a way to get freedom either by force or in peace.

We can’t really place a hand on what those who bring all these children from home do with them. Oftentimes, we see these children battered and rendered useless in the streets and because of what they have done in the past, we don’t seem to rescue them from the public.

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Sometimes ago, a boy of fifteen years old was caught in the street of Aba, he was beaten black and blue. The same people that caught him said he stole a sum of thirty thousand naira from a woman in the same street where he was caught. He ganged up with some other boys to steal from the woman.

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So, nemesis caught up with him and he was caught by some boys the next day and was dragged back to the same street where he stole. He was beaten and taken to the police station.

According to the International Labour Organisation, Nigeria has about 14 million children between the ages of five and 14 who are involved in a form of economic activity. Globally there are 168 million children involved in child labour. Of these, 59 million are from sub-Saharan Africa.

Child street hawking is one of the main forms of child labour in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Others forms of child labour may also include children working at building sites or on farms, children physically abused either violently or raped.

Children harassed by their aunties or uncles, children beaten because one mistake they made and Children deliberately denied the right to education, freedom of speech and other things.

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If Nigeria’s population is estimated to be 183 million with about 50% below the age of 18. I think there is a need for the government to make adequate provisions for education for these vulnerable children in our streets, care and protection for this group of people living helplessly in our streets in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria.

If the nation wants to progress, These children need to be sent back to school even if their parents can not afford to pay their school fees, there should be a way to help these children learn because they are our future and our tomorrow.

In 2008, the Lagos state government banned child street hawking during school hours to reduce the practice. But since then, addressing child street hawking or how to take these children back to school where they belong to has not been on the government’s agenda or policy.

In extension, as children born in the street; Street hawking has huge implications and disadvantages on their physical and emotional well-being. It has caused much havoc in the lives of these children and not only the children but their parents, too. Because if the parents have had an option, the streets wouldn’t have been a place to train their children or a place to push their children to.

The streets have directly exposed many of these children to sexual abuse, physical exhaustion, vehicle accidents, death and malnourishment and drug and substance abuse and prostitution just to mention few.

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In 1946, The League of Nations adopts the Geneva Declaration on the Rights of the Child, drafted by Eglantyne Jebb, founder of the Save the Children Fund. The Declaration articulates that all people owe children the right to: means for their development; special help in times of need; priority for relief; economic freedom and protection from exploitation; and an upbringing that instils social consciousness and duty — UNICEF.

By extension, many of our parents leave their children and ward in the merciful hands of their neighbours. The children are being trained by these neighbours in such a manner that they don’t care if anything may happen to these boys and girls or not. They forsake the future of these young ones.

There is this popular saying in Igbo language that “whosoever that born should be able to train the child he or she have giving birth to. We may see this as an unrealistic statement but it burns down to the bone marrow.

It is only a parent that knows how he or she can train up his child. She or he can not push his or her child into criminal acts. They would always warn their children against criminal acts like the slogan of one of the law enforcement agency that says “Your mother warned you against crime”.

Most parents would always try as much as possible to train a child in a way that they won’t be a reproach to the family. That is why we need to train a child in such a way that they would grow and become someone important in society.

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So, therefore, we have a role to love these children as we love ourselves. They are our responsibility too. They need our love. If you can, you can pick one of them and train. If you can, you can support a parent in the street to train up a child instead of leaving them to rot in the street. If we leave them, they may end up becoming the hugs we will live to fear.

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