Groups set up committee to protect street children
THE growing problem of lawless minors wandering on Nelson Mandela Bay's streets and being recruited by criminals has seen the formation of the Street Children Committee.
Formed last month by Central's Hill Improvement District, welfare organisations Maranatha and the ACVV, the department of social development and the Humewood Community Policing Forum, the committee was formed specifically to tackle "the root of the problem".
Hill Improvement District and Crime Prevention Forum (CPF) chairperson John Preller said experienced social workers were ready to respond "within minutes" to calls from residents about loitering street children who may be involved in petty crimes.
"We're saying phone up Maranatha or the ACVV and describe the street kids, and they will send out a social worker who has more credibility with street children than, say, a policeman in uniform," said Preller.
"They then try and establish where the street children live and which other social workers they have dealt with in the past, and establish a database.
"The social workers then determine why these kids are on the streets - whether it's alcoholism or other domestic problems - and establish what can be done to bring them back into mainstream society, and into schools.
"In 10 years those (minors) will be adults and possibly dangerous, but if we help them now, they have a chance of becoming normal parts of society."
Preller said the aim was to undo the negative impact of minors' years of living on the streets.
"We have a fairly large crew of competent people who are helping and specifically involved (with aiding) street kids.
"This is what we're doing to take children off the streets and out of the reach of criminals. We're looking at sports like soccer and karate to try and bring these kids off the streets," he added.
- Readers wanting to offer help or who need to report errant homeless minors in their neighbourhoods can call the ACVV on 041-487-3926 or 041-586-0017.