All children have the right to be safe and to receive love, care and support. Children also have the right to receive the services they need to enable them succeed in life.
Parents have the primary responsibility to raise their children, and ensure that these rights are upheld. The best way to protect children is to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring.
Although the Government of Ghana can boast of having done a lot for the Ghanaian child, there is still much more to be done to ensure that kids get the very best in the country. Here is a review of the state of the Ghanaian child in 2015.
Education: More Children dropping out of school
Apart from the fact that there are more than 500, 000 kids of school going age, who are not in school, the number of children attending school reduces with increasing age.
According to the 2014, Ghana Living Standards Survey’s Child Labour Report, “Nearly nine out of every ten children (88.9%) are currently attending school, while 5.9 percent have never attended school. The proportion of females (5.6%) who have never attended school is higher than males (5.7%). On the other hand, the proportion of females (5.6%) who had ever attended school is higher than males (4.9%).” This is an indication that more effort is needed not only in sending female children to school but, more importantly, also ensuring that they stay in school.
Child Labour: More kids getting injured on the job
Over 90% of children in the age group of 8-11 years who suffered injuries and health- related issues were child labourers. On the other hand, a relatively higher proportion of children in the age group of 15-17 years who reported suffering from injury or having health-related problems were engaged in hazardous forms of child labour. 73% of children who suffered an injury as a result of work were involved in child labour while 53.2 percent of them were into hazardous activities. The proportion of children who suffered injury or job-related illnesses increases with age. When children are into full education, the use of their time is geared towards studying and therefore, they are less likely to be available for other activities including child labour. The survey results also show that, in all, over 20 percent of children aged 5-17 years engaged in child labour.
Majority of these children (76.8%) worked as skilled agriculture and fishery workers while 14.9 percent worked as service and sales workers. Less than five percent worked in elementary occupations (3.9%) or as craft and related workers (4.2%). In Accra (GAMA), almost three-quarters (73.2%) of the children were engaged in service and sales activities, with an additional 16.1 percent engaged in elementary occupations.
Child Abuse: Kids in child labour receive the highest abuse
The Child labour report also reveals a worrying relationship between child abuse and child labour: About nine in every ten children who suffered some form of abuse were involved in child labour; while 87.4 percent of such children were engaged in hazardous forms of child labour. Also, about one-fifth of working children are constantly shouted at by persons who engaged them. An additional 10 percent reported being repeatedly insulted at the work place. The proportion of females subjected to constant shouting and repeated insults are slightly higher than males.
The abuse of children through shouting is more prominent in rural (19.5%) than in urban (15.8%) areas. Within the rural areas, the rural coastal has the least proportion of reported cases of abuse of children at the workplace. The rural savannah (20.8%) has the highest proportion of children who are subjected to constant shouting.
Child sexual abuse: Kids are still being sexually abused
Even though the proportion of children who suffered sexual harassment is very low (0.3%), the GLSS (2014) indicates that as expected, the proportion of females (0.4%) experiencing sexual harassment is higher than males (0.1%), but older children of 12-14 years and 15-17 years are the most sexually harassed.
Child Marriage: “Alarming”
The 2008 Demographic Health Survey puts the figure of women aged 20-24, who were married or were in union before age 18 years around 25%. This ranges between 12.2 and 39.2 per cent, with the Upper East Region having the highest percentage of 39.2 per cent. In 2011, Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) scored Ghana a notch higher (28%) for age of marriage before 18 and about 6% for marriage before 15 years.
This projection shows an increase of 47% from the 2010 estimate of married girls, which is compounded by high fertility and low mortality in the recent past. It is without gainsaying that immediate action is required to stop thousands of girls in Ghana from being married in the next decade(s). According to the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) “Ending child marriage requires strategies for girls’ empowerment, social and cultural norms change, legal reform, and policy action. Proven solutions involve girls’ schooling (especially lower secondary) and programmes that offer life skills, literacy, health information and services, and social support”. Married girls especially need access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and maternal health services.
Health: Anaemia is still a big problem
According to the 2014 Demographic and health Survey (DHS) “66% of children suffered from some degree of anaemia:27 percent were classified as mildly anaemic, 37 percent were moderately anaemic, and 2 percent were severely anaemic. The prevalence of anaemia decreases steadily with age, ranging from a high of 79 percent among children age 6-11 months to a low of 53 percent among children age 48-59 months. Anaemia prevalence is higher in rural than urban areas (74 percent versus 57 percent) and ranges from a low of 54 percent in the Ashanti region to a high of 82 percent in the Northern region. The proportion of children who are anaemic also decreases steadily with increasing wealth of the family.
This is particularly a huge problem because it can impair cognitive development, stunt growth, and increase morbidity from infectious diseases. Anaemia is a condition that is marked by low levels of haemoglobin in the blood. Iron is a key component of haemoglobin, and iron deficiency is estimated to be responsible for half of all anaemia globally. Other causes of anaemia include hookworm and other helminths, other nutritional deficiencies, chronic infections, and genetic conditions.
2016 Budget and matters arising
According to the Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC) Child Abuse cost Ghana over 900 million every year.
Though, the 2016 Budget has outlined policy & institutional framework for guaranteeing child protection, it failed to:
- Clearly specify allocations to support child protection;
- Prioritize provision of goods services for the sector;
- Provide update on Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) policy review to improve care & protection for children less than four years.
The budget also hints that the Child & Family Welfare Policy is to be implemented, but there was no update on initiatives to be implemented; and again there are insufficient budgetary allocations to ensure effectiveness even if it is implemented.
The flagship social protection programme in Ghana, LEAP, covers about 1.6% of children under 15 years of age; but the programme leaves significant coverage gaps in relation to children under four years and poor children outside the orphans and vulnerable children category. There is also No update on the policy review, especially to improve care for children aged 0-3 years. (ILO Ghana report, 2015)
On Child labour & child trafficking: the budget provided some form of update on the new Human Trafficking National Plan of Action saying that it is being initiated. Equally significant is the signing of a child protection compact partnership with the USA. However, there were NO details of specific implementation initiatives, or adequate resources & logistics for the Management Board & Secretariat of the National Steering Committee on Child Labour.