NATION

Children in State Homes ‘Lack Parental, Community Support’

In the past five years, 347 children have been remanded and 96 committed.
25 Jun 2019 16:45
Children in State Homes ‘Lack  Parental, Community Support’
Director of the Ministry of Social Welfare Rupeni Fatiaki (far right)at a Government conference. Photo: Ronald Kumar

A total of 32 children between the ages of 12 and 17 years old are in remand in homes run by the Ministry of Social Welfare for allegedly committing criminal offences, says director Rupeni Fatiaki .

During his presentation at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions annual conference at the weekend, Mr Fatiaki said eight children in this age group had been convicted and committed into State care for various offences.

In the past five years, 347 children have been remanded and 96 committed.

Mr Fatiaki said 80 per cent of these children were involved in offences against property, which included robbery, burglary and theft.

He said 10 per cent were involved in sexual offences while the rest were in custody for breaching bail and even overstaying.

Mr Fatiaki said they have found that family breakdown and poverty were key factors that led to children committing crime.

He said a lack of good role models, lack of discipline, no respect for authority, peer pressure and substance abuse were some causes.

The director of the ministry’s Social Welfare division said even though the children were detained, juveniles were assessed on admission and encouraged to continue their formal education, otherwise they are encouraged to take up vocational training with institutions such as FNU.

He said the children were also offered life-skills training, which included farming, fishing and minor repairs. Morals training and discipline were part of the rehabilitation process through the Ministry of Social Welfare.

Mr Fatiaki said for most juveniles the lack of support from their families and the community led to many reoffending

However, he added, that there were some children in homes run by the ministry who progressed to do greater things in life.

Mr Fatiaki said some children in State care have become lawyers, Police officers and found a vocation in other professions.

He said the State did not only care for those children who committed crimes, but also those whose parents could not afford to look after them.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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