It has become very common to hear about missing kids in the Gambia nowadays. Every now and then one either reads it on the newspapers or hears about it on our radio stations. Sometimes, it is rumoured until it reaches all corners of the country that a child has gone missing in town X or village Y.
Currently, there is talk of two kids going missing; and the grapevine has it that they might have been kidnapped. The question one might ask is: Are we giving our children proper and adequate protection? Children are a gift from God; they are the most valuable treasure one can wish for. They are the future of this and any other country. So, they should be treated like the treasure they are.
One often comes across children as young as five or six in the streets after sunset. These children run around [sometimes naked], dodging cars in the streets and returning home only when they get hungry. What kind of parent leaves your toddler to be running around in the streets? These children are vulnerable and need our support, protection, love and care. Letting your child run around the streets after dark is child abuse. No wonder the police are sometimes inundated with complaints of missing children.
Another type of child abuse is the sending of underage children to sell water, snacks, or some other item. These children are supposed to be in school but are being used by their parents or guardians to make money. As a result, the child misses out on going to school and misses a great opportunity to be someone in the future. All this for the short term fifty or seventy five dalasi the child will bring home.
You might even find some of these kids working as apprentices in Gele-Geles or vans under the tutelage of the driver. These are the most abused children in the country. They are insulted by both the driver and the passengers because their parents have decided to throw them to the wolves. Don’t we have laws against these despicable actions?
It’s time we revisited our attitudes towards our children. Let us treat these gems as valuable gifts and blessings from God!