Homeless children face high risk of being involved in crime

KUALA LUMPUR: The authorities have been urged to take pro-active measures to solve the problem of homeless children roaming and playing around in the dark alleys around Lorong Haji Taib and Jalan Chow Kit in the city.

Social activist and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) lecturer, Associate Professor Dr Mohd Fadzil Che Din said this was because these children faced the risk of becoming aggressive individuals and getting involved in various immoral and criminal activities in the future due to their surroundings.

The former director of the Social Institute of Malaysia said the ‘dark’ areas they were living in needed to be cleansed in order to give them a more conducive environment to grow up in.

“We have to understand that that is their space and their home, so if we give the family a new place to stay and new jobs in another area, it may not work.

“Therefore, we have to improve the areas by providing facilities such as a playground, recreation area, health care and proper learning place; in other words, a proper neighbourhood for these children,” said Mohd Fadzil, who is with the Department of Counsellor Education and Counselling Psychology of UPM’s Faculty of Educational Studies.

He said along with these facilities, crime activities in the areas had to be eradicated to create a safer environment for the street children to grow up in.

“When the children see aggressive behaviour around them, they will also become like that. The crimes will influence the children to also fall into the same trap, worse still if their parents themselves are involved in activities such as prostitution, drug dealing and drug addiction.

“Such parents should be helped, as there are among them who commit crime because they are forced to. When we help their parents, we will help the street children as well,” he said.

“People should stop pointing fingers at who are the cause of this problem and who should take steps to overcome this unhealthy situation around the Lorong Haji Taib and Jalan Chow Kit areas.

“People should understand that these children need help, so they should ‘turun padang’ (go down to the ground) to assist and not leave the responsibility entirely to the NGOs and government agencies.

“This is necessary although laws had been enacted to curb the problem of parents leaving their children astray, whereby under Section 33 of the Child Act 2001, parents leaving their children unattended could face a fine of RM5,000 or two years in jail, or both if convicted.

Meanwhile, president of Nur Hikmah Welfare Association Malaysia Othman Ahmad said a family concept should be applied to bring orphaned street children out of the ‘dark’ areas.

“The concept of placing them in a hostel will not help because the most important thing for them is love and affection, and they currently lack that. The concept of principal and pupils is not that effective.

“We need to give more than that, we should place them in homes which are comfortable and which will provide them love and affection. The concept of an extended family is the best to overcome this problem,” he said.

Othman said the public should not punish these children because they were only victims of the situation and surroundings which had destroyed them.

“When we approach these street children, we cannot be too ‘firm’. We have to use a lot of slow talk and psychological approach, if not, they would run away. The most important thing is we need to let them know that we care for them,” he said.

The association which was formed in 2005 now has two shelter homes in Kajang, near here, which house about 60 people at any one time. — Bernama

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