Street boys turning aggressive, violent
Children begging in Kingstown has been an issue for a long time, but one woman says some children are now becoming verbally aggressive and physically violent when they do not get what they want.
Lindika Sterling, a McKies Hill resident is therefore calling on the authorities to do something about these children on the street as she is being regularly terrorised by two boys known to her only as Mark and Jacob.
Sterling said that Jacob constantly asks her for money and in the past he would go his way when she ignored him, but he has now made it a habit of rubbing his body against hers when she ignores him.
She related that one day, she met both boys and one of them shouted to her, asking her to have sex with them; when she shouted at them she said they ran. ‘“…’miss come over here and give me a [email protected]#$ nah’…tell me if that is something that a child should say. The child protection unit know these kids are on the street and they are not doing anything,” Sterling said while adding that she has known Jacob to be on the street since he was very young.
She added: “Jacob, he is very rude and disrespectful, and from what I understand this child has been on the street from six years old which is unbelievable in a day and age like this.”
Sterling said on May 9 this year, she was heading to the Cruise Ship Berth to meet friends and Jacob pushed up against her.
“I told him the next time you do me that I would burst your face and he took a stone and pelt it at me and it struck me on my foot,” said Sterling who noted that she is a former employee of the Family Affairs Division, and Jacob’s mother is a Jamaican national who would take the boy to the office regularly.
Sterling said she reported the matter to the Child Protection Division and was told by an employee that the police should detain the problematic children and pass them over to the Unit.
She said she took time off from work and went to the police and showed them a picture of Mark, and they said they would deal with it, but nothing has been done and she was attacked again on Tuesday May 18.
“I went down the road and he did it again (rub up on me) and I hold him by his neck and throw him out in the road how I was so aggravated.
“That child pick up a Carib bottle and pelt it at me and it broke up and splinters struck my foot,” Sterling said. The Mc Kies Hill resident said she went to the police for the second time but they did not budge.
“I went to the police the same night and I scream down the police station because I was so frustrated, and I know if I put my hand on that child I would get a charge and they would throw me in jail, and that is what is frustrating me.”
Sterling is of the opinion that the authorities are dragging their feet on the street kid issue as the majority of street kids have been on the road for a long time.
“We need to nip this in the bud now because you see how they are young and they are soaking up everything, and nobody disciplining them, wait until they get big. Nobody is thinking about these things,” Sterling told SEARCHLIGHT.
She said that she posted about her issue on Facebook on May 11, and a lot of persons responded and told stories of encounters with the same two boys.
“One woman even said she refused to give Mark a dollar and he said if he had a gun he would shoot her,” Sterling commented.
Head of Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Superintendent of Police Clauston Francis, said he is not aware of Sterling’s case specifically, but depending on the nature of the incident, the police will get involved.
He added that in these cases, the police would call the relevant authorities, for example the social welfare department.
Minister of Social Development Dr Orando Brewster said on Wednesday that once a child is on the streets and causing trouble and the Child Protection Division is informed, a case worker would be sent out to investigate.
He said if the child does not have a place to stay, they will take them off the streets and depending on the age, several things can be done, including placement at the Liberty Lodge Training Centre.
Brewster noted also that there are several Acts in place to deal with under-aged troublemakers, and the unit would usually liaise with the police.
In July 2008, a scientific survey on the prevalence of street children in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) co-ordinated by the Ministry of Social Development and other stakeholders, revealed that street children numbers “are reasonably low”; there were 32 of them on the streets then.
As well as identifying known street children, the survey, more disturbingly, pinpointed the broader problem of at risk children in jeopardy of ending up on the streets – something that could have potentially triple current street children figures.
A top ranking police officer on Wednesday told SEARCHLIGHT that over the years he has noticed boys who grew up on the streets transition from committing crimes like petty theft, to serious crimes like murder.