Innovative ways to deal with the child vendor issue

Dear Editor,

As Peter said, change the law! Having said that, Samoa could be a little smart and innovative with the solutions. 

Instead of throwing them in jail or juvenile detention, perhaps change the law to make them be forced to register as vendors. 

Then as part of that license, they must report to marketing and business classes every Saturday provided by N.U.S. (govt./donors/charities to pay for the courses) on Saturdays for 2 hours - short 15 minute break in the middle. 

They must then pass their exams in business education (for youth) to be allowed to continue to hold their licenses. All these classes, in addition to their normal schooling, to lead towards graduation from primary school and high school.

I propose the following conditions of licences:

1) If they don’t go to Saturday class 2x in a period of 12 months, then they lose their license. Doctor’s certificates to be provided to a teacher within 7 days of an absence from a class if the vendor is sick. No vendor to be selling after an absence from a class for sickness unless they also have a doctor’s certificate with them ready for inspection.

2) If they are caught selling without a license, then they will be prosecuted through the normal court system.

3) Failure to produce their license book on the spot will result in them being put in the police cells (special cell for youth offenders) until their parents pick them up. Failing to produce 3x in a 12 month period could lead to loss of license.

4) All vendors to wear uniforms to identify them as vendors; it could be a fluorescent pull-over or bib stating “licensed vendor”. They are also to wear appropriate footwear. No selling in bare feet. If caught 3x in a 12 month period selling without the proper fluorescent uniform will result in loss of license.

5) No vendors to be on the streets of Apia after 7.00pm at night and before 3.00pm in the afternoon Monday to Friday. Loss of license if caught 3x in violation of this condition as well as parents to be criminally prosecuted - the maximum sentence to involve community work (instead of a fine).

6) Selling on Saturdays will only be allowed after 12.00pm after they have attended their class for that Saturday. Rolls to be kept. The teacher for the course to sign and STAMP their license books with the official N.U.S. course stamp on it so that when police inspect the books, it should show they’ve been to Saturday class for that week. The official stamp prevents forged signatures being put on there.

The law could also make it illegal for ANY child under 15 to be in Apia after 11.00pm unaccompanied by an adult.


Petelo Suaniu

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