Rehabilitation of street children is commendable

Some of the street children who operate from Jinja Road traffic lights in Kampala chat with a taxi driver during peak hours. PHOTO / ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Street children
  • Our view: Authorities should no longer just give the street children hope by taking them for rehabilitation but look into the persons behind their being on the streets. 

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has rounded up 259 street children and returned them to Karamoja Sub-region where authorities seek to rehabilitate them before they are reunited with their families.

The children are being taken to Koblin Skilling Centre in Napak District, where tracing and reintegration with their families will be done.

It is commendable that the Authority has involved several stakeholders in this rehabilitation project and there seems to be major gains in sight unlike in the past when street children would be rounded up and simply taken back to their home origins without proper rehabilitation efforts.

KCCA says it has designed strategies targeting perpetrators behind these street children. This is even more commendable but how far it goes will determine so much in this effort.

It would be in vain to rehabilitate the street children and not get to the bottom of the unscrupulous persons who deal in the “services” of these street children.

For years, it has been a public secret that most of the street children are transported into the capital Kampala by unscrupulous persons who exploit their innocence by deploying them on the streets to beg or steal in return for petty livelihood.

But there has not been prosecution of any culprit probably because concerned authorities have never taken keen interest in digging up to the bottom of what goes on in this “business.”

The result has seen a vicious circle of KCCA or Police rounding up the street children and returning them to Karamoja and returning in a swarm not long afterwards. Organisations involved in supporting destitute children also often find their efforts going in vain as the children prefer to be on the streets.

Like stakeholders have observed, the street has never been a place for a child to grow from. Every child needs a home, a place where they are safe and every child needs education.

Street life exposes these children to so many risks such as rape, ritual killings, accidents and disease. Having a few hundred children growing up on the streets translates to potentially thousands of criminals growing up in the city. When they lose their innocence and begin to feel shame in begging, crime is their only resort.

Without proper investigation and punitive measures, the rehabilitation efforts will continue to be in vain. 

Authorities should no longer just give the street children hope by taking them for rehabilitation but look into the persons behind their being on the streets. 

The lack of investigations and prosecution only helps the culprits continue to flout the laws against child abuse.

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