Editorial comment – Our children, our concern

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama speaks to schoolchildren of Nasau district in Ra. Picture: SUPPLIED/DEPTFO

IT was five years ago that the Suva City Council engaged itself in a campaign to monitor the use of internet cafes by children at night in the Capital City.

It did this with the support of the police force.

At the time there was a disturbing perception that children flocked to these cafes late at night.

It attracted negative perceptions and discussions.

The effort was also aimed at addressing the issue of children loitering in the city late at night.

As expected, there was criticism from businesses affected by the decision at the time.

That year, Suva special administrator Chandu Umaria appeared to link internet cafes to children on the streets late at night and wanted such cafes closing early.

Cafe owners disagreed and were quite adamant their cafes were not the sole reason children stayed out late.

There was a suggestion that there was no real link between loitering children and internet cafes.

Sceptics insisted people were always in the city at night, even before internet cafes opened.

We wonder whether this issue is as relevant now as it was then?

The annual Hibiscus Festival offers a convenient platform for hundreds of youngsters to be out and about late at night this week.

This places attention and pressure on the role of parents and guardians.

Safety concerns will come to the fore.

Children have also been noticed outside a number of supermarkets in and around Suva and Nasinu during the day, some of them begging for money.

Perhaps when we are able to agree, and establish who should be responsible for the welfare of children, we may be able to then clearly define a course of action.

Parental obligation and responsibility are clearly important issues.

It isn’t something that should be swept under the carpet.

As the days wind down to the tail end of the Hibiscus Festival, adult supervision will be in demand.

Not that some children will be embracing it with open arms though.

With many other events also winding down around the country, there will certainly be a lot of movement of people.

Let’s be proactive and mindful of safety concerns for our young charges.

Surely, the issue of who is responsible for their care must be given due prominence.

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