Street children and the rising insecurity threat in Calabar
By Ivy Bassey
In recent time, Cross River State has been faced with rising insecurity as a result of violence and criminality attributed to street children called ”Skolombo Children”. These homeless children beg for alms and scavenge for recyclable materials on the street; they have become one of the problem of the state..
From roaming the street for survival in bands, some have form themselves into criminal gangs, they have been associated with incident of robbery, kidnapping, rape, pickpocketing and drug abuse.
To my best of knowledge, the problem of skolombo children began in 2013 and seems to have gathered steam in recent times, following a rise in violence and criminality associated with gangs of children in the state. In 2015, the state Government inaugurated a task force code name “Operation skolombo” to address the menace of street children in the state capital.
This initiative however, has not been able to effectively address the problem as violence and criminality associated with street children is still prevalent, particularly in calabar.
Punitive measure alone will not solve this problem, for the issues to be address effectively, stakeholders need to emphasize prevention and rehabilitation as well. The phenomenon of street children is common in most cities in Nigeria.
However, criminally associated with street kids is a serious problem in Calabar, we or they might not take it seriously or personal; only God knows if I fully have my way, I will put an end to most problems, and it is becoming a security issues that needs to be addressed.
Street children always live in an abandoned public building, motor parks, market and other public space or places in various part of the city, particularly around Flower Mill, Cultural Center, Bogobri amongst others. They survive by eating remnants of food at most occasions and also running errand for people, and doing menial jobs for people just to eat and survive.
As they grow older and adapt to the street life, they are increasingly at risk of predation by criminals, who rob and at times force them into illicit activities. Furthermore, as a result of a phycological trauma societal rejection and abuse, and the lack of parental love and care, they become even more vulnerable to negative influence and on the street.
Rather than providing rehabilitation, they are neglected by the society, stigmatized and even branded as witches and wizards. These children therefore become hardened and adopt a life of crime.
Well, sometimes, they are stubborn and people refuse to help them but thats not really okay.
My heart bleeds, the government should please look into this matter once again.
Stay safe family and prevent yourself from being a victim of Covid 19. Much love