Seaboard forum discusses street children

The Atlantic Seaboard Social Development Forum met on Tuesday last week to discuss challenges in the area.

Children living on the streets was the focus of the second sitting of the Atlantic Seaboard Social Development Forum last Tuesday, March 16.

The forum is an initiative of ward 54 and 115 councillors, Nicola Jowell and Ian McMahon to join forces with NGOs and other stakeholders to discuss social issues and challenges facing the Atlantic Seaboard communities.

Ms Jowell stated that although it was started to focus on Ward 54 it is in essence about the whole Atlantic Seaboard and perhaps the whole Sub-council 16 area.

Director for the Western Cape Street Children’s Forum, Janice King, formed part of the stakeholders on the forum last week.

Ms King said the Atlantic Seaboard and the CBD are among their focus areas for this year.

The meeting heard that giving money to children on the streets encourages them to stay out of school, leave their homes and stay on the streets.

Ms King said begging promotes trafficking, exploitation and the abuse of vulnerable children and introduces them to street life, substance abuse and drug addiction.

“Research shows that children coming from poverty-stricken homes where neglect, exposure to various forms of abuse, and being abused often leads to barriers to learning and behavioural issues which in turn lead to poor school performance and attendance.”

She said the Drop In Centre social workers share that children are struggling at many homes. She said there’s often very little food in the families and the children rely fully on the parcels.

Mr McMahon said this a space to get all NGO’s, community organisations, officials, Law Enforcement and people interested in working together into a room to talk about the social issues in the area.

“Although there are glaringly strong personalities and people who strive to be the loudest voices and keyboard activists on social media – again, no pitch, no bother to be present at the very meeting to bring all voices to the table. On all sides of the table,” he said

Ms Jowell stated: “The organisation is entirely focused on the protection, advocacy and creation of positive enhancement of and for children at risk. And a well supported reminder for the building of partnerships to work on the issues together which is exactly the focus and purpose of the Atlantic Seaboard Social Development Forum.”