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Concerns swell over children roaming streets

Jacob N. B. Parley
Some children on Christmas Day
Some children on Christmas Day

MONROVIA, LIBERIA - There are glaring indications of Liberia’s once cherished family values   declining to the disadvantage of the country at large, especially for children, seen by many as the future leaders of any wholesome functioning society.

“In pre-war Liberia, children had fear and respect for older people, as the issue of discipline in the various homes, communities and schools  could not easily  be compromised, compared to these days,” observed Martina Nimely, a fifty- seven year old resident of the Slaughter House Community,Bushrod Island,  who sells cold water and coconut to sustain her family.

An investigation conducted by the Liberia Broadcasting System has established that children, especially those falling in the age range of ten to twelve years are nowadays seeing roaming the streets and the various entertainment centers on holidays without being accompanied by older people.

“During our days, our parents and guardians ensured   that we were accompanied to community-based entertainment centers by older people, with those carrying us  given straight instructions to bring us back not later that six O’clock PM,” Mr. George Barclay, of River Cess County once told ELBC during an exclusive interview in the county.

He said the essence of the idea was to ensure that innocent children did not get abused by unscrupulous individuals in society.

Mr. Barclay, like several others who spoke to ELBC said allowing older people in the various communities those days to take the children out prevented them from being exposed to early sex and the consumption of alcoholic substances on major holiday days.

Our investigation shows that a lot of children get involved in fist fight at entertainment centers, beaches and street shoulders in Liberia during some of the country’s national holidays.

Among them are New Year, Christmas, July 26 or Liberia’s Independence Day, including the birthdays of Presidents J.J. Roberts and William V.S. Tubman.

It has also been established that some of these practices are usually introduced to children by their peers during the observance of the holidays, especially in the absence of people who are supposed to direct the children.

At times, they get involved in accidents while carelessly crossing the road, apparently under the influence of alcoho. In some instances, some of the children get missing, with parents and custodians running to media houses and nearby police depots to help find the missing children by making announcements.

These children, some of who are in  the age range of 12-15 years   storm some of the  crowded     entertainment centers in Monrovia and parts adjacent with their female counterparts, openly drinking large bottles of Beer and other intoxicating substances.

The dramatic part is that once a bottle gets empty, they send it up and allow it to hit the ground, bursting in pieces, as they jump from one end of the road to the other to , perhaps show their might in drinking liquor. 

This particular aspect leaves the sidewalks and the affected streets glittering with pieces of bottle, a situation that poses threat, not only to them, but others, including pedestrians.

Concerns continue to be expressed by scores of concerned Liberians from various parts of Monrovia and its environs.

Some of them told ELBC that it was dangerous for children below fifteen years to be allowed to roam the streets and entertainment centers on major holidays, like Christmas and New Year without being accompanied by older people.

The group of parents and guardians called for corrective measures to address the situation. They told ELBC that a lot of innocent children are likely to get abused by unscrupulous individuals, while they are out alone during the celebration of these major national holidays in the country. 

According to them, one positive way for children to observe such national holidays is to identify older people from the various homes and communities to carry them out so as to ensure their safety.

The concerned group of parents and guardians also frowned on the alleged rise in the consumption of alcoholic beverages by young people in the various communities. 

When I visited several entertainment centers in Monrovia and parts adjacent, I observed that children, in the age range of fifteen to sixteen were drinking   alcoholic beverages on New Year Day. I also noticed that some of the children placed the alcoholic beverages in soft drink bottles to avoid being arrested or questioned by relevant authorities.

“The children’s action suggests that they are aware of existing laws that make alcohol consumption by them a punishable offense in society,” a passerby told me during my recent investigation. 


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