The Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC) has raised concern over the increasing number of children infected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country out of which five have already died.
This, according to GNCRC, suggests that parents are neglecting their primary responsibility of taking very good care of their children and protecting them from getting infected.
The concern was raised in a press release issued and signed by Mr Barima Akwasi Amankwaah, National Coordinator of the GNCRC.
The release, however, congratulated government for the successful initiatives geared towards the spread and containment of COVID-19 in the country.
It said, beyond the rise of infections among children by the pandemic, there are other concerns that needed the immediate attention of government, specifically the rise of abusive and violent behaviour against children as reported in the media.
Chronicling a number of the abusive and violent behaviours highlighted in the media and for which the perpetrators have either been jailed or are standing trial, the statement called for stiffer punishment to perpetrators of such inhumane acts.
It urged the Ministry of Interior through the Ghana Police Service to bring to book those officers that permitted or took videos of some four girls who were alleged to have broken into someone’s house and made away with some items for circulation, thereby exposing the children to danger and harm.
It also raised alarm on the issue of children selling of nose masks on the streets, describing the practice as a worse form of child labour as it violated the rights and welfare of the children involved.
The statement called on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection through the Domestic Violence Secretariat to conduct regional, district and community education on domestic violence including child rights, abuse and exploitation of children while improving avenue for reporting of child protection issues.
It also impressed upon the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly Security Councils to include child protection issues in their respective briefing and urgently address emerging issues as a matter of urgency.
The statement urged the Department of Community Development to intensify its community education using the Child Protection Community Facilitation Toolkits and the Communication for Development Toolkits.
It also admonished the Ministry of Interior through the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) to collaborate with community members and opinion leaders to quicken the process of prosecution of offenders to serve as a deterrent to others.
Again, the statement wants the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and its partners to engage with the media to intensify education on child labour to ensure that no child is found on the street even after the total lifting of all restrictions.
It requested the Ministry of Information to include child protection issues in its deliberations and educate the masses on child abuse prevention and the situation in the communities, noting that the psychological cost of damages to a child could not be quantified nor compared to any other economic benefit.
“It is anticipated that if we do all that and many others, we shall be able to prevent child rights abuses, violation and exploitation within our communities and give our children a better future”, the statement added.