‘Street Light’ project launched to keep children off streets
The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security on Monday launched the ‘street light project,’ an initiative aimed at ensuring children have a safe environment away from the dangers that lurk on the roadways.
The programme was launched on the second day of Child Protection Week 2022, which is being held under the theme “Keeping Children Safe through Community Collaboration.”
Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud reemphasised government’s effort to provide the necessary support to ensure no child dwells on the street.
“We want a country where there is no child on the street, if that child needs shelter, and food, and education and everything else that is a child’s right. The ministry is committed to providing that, the ministry is also committed to working with the parents and the family, to ensuring that when that child goes back into the family’s care, those things will be provided, because we will create a database and follow up those children to ensure that they have stability in their lives,” the minister stated.
Officers from the ministry’s child protection office have reported seeing over 30 children on Monday alone in specific areas, especially at traffic lights in Georgetown.
Minister Persaud said the initiative comes after a year of actively working with parents and children to resolve this growing issue.
The Child Protection Law of 2009. Section 49, states, “A person who by commission or omission wilfully contributes to a child being a child in need of protective intervention commits an offence and is liable to a summary conviction to a fine of $200,000 or to imprisonment of six months”.
The minister called on parents, guardians and citizens to report instances of children being on the streets, as they are exposed to a series of risks.
“It’s important when we have children on the street to understand the risk out there not only of exploitation, but of abuse. And it is also important to look deeper into the matter to see what triggers those children being on the street, and why their parents are not integrally involved in supervising them. So, when you see children on the street, report it, make that call 914, three easy numbers to remember, make that call report what you see,” Dr Persaud urged.
The ministry is collaborating with the Guyana Police Force to ensure children receive the help they need.
Child Protection Officers will also be patrolling communities across the country to ensure children are kept off the streets.
UN Resident Coordinator Yesim Oruc, UNICEF representative Irfan Akhtar and members of the police force were also present at the launch.