They are our children, too!

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Dear Editor, 

The recent footage of child street vendors attacking a man in the early hours of the morning has gone viral and has brought to the fore an issue that has long been talked about. 

The footage highlights the need for society as a whole to come together and address this issue before it gets out of hand. 

At first glance, I am sure that many of us want to discipline these kids with a belt or something harder. Yes, discipline is needed BUT then what? 

If we are to just beat these kids for beating on someone else, what are we achieving? 

I see many interesting pieces in the comments section of Samoa Observer posts on Facebook and some comments are just atrocious. Fasi them! Fasi their parents and throw them in jail! 

Yes, we are all up in arms about what happened but if we all give into our emotion, what good will come out of it? 

What we need is a concerted systematic approach which involves EVERYONE and that also includes these kids and their families. After all, these children are OUR children too! 

We must be compassionate towards them and guide them (and their parents) towards something better. We need to get everyone onboard... from Government, the various NGOs, the Alii ma Faipule of our villages, the church and our wider communities. 

Researching how other jurisdictions address similar issues is where we can start. Research so we can identify the root cause of the problems causing these issues and come to understand what is at the heart of the problem; addressing the issue and not just the symptoms.

We need leadership and champions from all sectors to stand up and drive initiatives aimed at resolving this issue. 

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist. The more we deny the existence of this and many other problems plaguing our nation, the further we get from achieving a quality life for all. 

The recent statements by the Prime Minister and Mr. Tuala Oli Ah Him are greatly disappointing. Much like the denial of the existence of poverty in Samoa, their denial about the child street vendors being a problem is disheartening and will only lead to more issues in the future. 

Should we neglect to address this issue NOW, we will only be doing our future generations a disservice. Just because it exists in other more developed nations does not mean it isn’t a problem here. 

So you sold mangoes on some weekends when you were young... how does that come anywhere near what these children are doing and the struggles they face? That’s just an absurd comparison, sir.  

With comments and a mentality such as yours, Mr. Ah Him, we will never be able to solve our problems. Reading through your comments again, Mr Ah Him, it sounds like you have no idea how this issue can affect Samoa and for such a learned and well-travelled businessman such as yourself, I am surprised. 

You see, sir, it is like a sore. If you leave the sore untreated and let it fester, it will get infected and will lead to a whole other set of issues. 

Similarly, the issue at hand; if we do not address this issue it will fester and it WILL get worse... you should know as your staff chase these kids away from the front of your hotel/bar at night. 

You should be well aware of how they are now pestering patrons at your establishment and also at other businesses. 

If we just let it go and do nothing like you suggest, we’ll only be sweeping the issue under the fala and pretend that all is peachy in good ol’ Samoa. We need to talk about solutions and we need to acknowledge that this is an issue. 

The first step towards solving a problem is to acknowledge that it exists. Remember, these children are our children as well. 

Their parents have obviously failed them. Should we just let them fall through the cracks and not help them? 

No! I don’t think and I don’t believe we should. Why? Because even though their parents are the ones responsible for them, we also have to be mindful that some parents fail at their jobs and when that happens, these children become our responsibility as a society. 

If we neglect them, we can only expect things to get worse for society as whole. I pray that the Hon. Faumuina Wayne Fong and other like – minded decision makers bring us all together to come up with ideas and strategies on how to address this issue. After all, they are our children, too!  

God bless Samoa

Leota R. 

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