The Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service has arraigned 237 parents before court for failing to care for their children.
A reliable source from the Ghana Police Service said 6,107 of such cases were reported to the unit last year and pointed out that majority of the culprits were fathers.
According to the source, out of the cases reported to the unit, 3,372 involved fathers whom DOVVSU was able to invite and cause their arrest while 54 mothers were also arrested.
Since such cases are related to the welfare of children and the family, DOVVSU often refers them to the Department of Social Welfare for further investigation and peaceful settlement, the source explained.
It also pointed out that cases of that nature were sent to court to compel parents to live up to their responsibilities to their children, after a number of cautions to provide for their children had been disregarded.
The source explained that child non-maintenance cases involved situations in which parents failed to take care of their children, such as not providing for their basic needs by providing shelter, paying school fees, food and clothing, among others.
Over the years, child non-maintenance cases have been on the top of child abuse cases committed against children, with a total of 6,158 cases were recorded in 2012.
The source said under the Domestic Violence Law, when such cases were sent to court and the parents involved were found liable, they could be given a two-year imprisonment term or asked to pay GH¢6,000 or both.
It, therefore, advised parents who had neglected their responsibilities towards their children to be aware that there was a law that criminalised the act of not taking care of their children.
The source encouraged children not to be afraid to go to any of the DOVVSU offices in the country to inform the unit when their parents failed to provide them with their basic needs.
“Often, children are afraid to report their parents to us because they fear we will arrest them but I want to assure all children that when they report such cases to us, we will invite their parents and counsel them to do what is required of them before we take any action. The interest of children is very important to DOVVSU,” it assured.
On what plans the unit has to reduce the high cases of child non-maintenance recorded every year, the source said DOVVSU had in the past focussed on the schools and adults, but had realised that adults did not inform the children about their rights in such cases so the Sunday School services were now the target this year to reach young people directly.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare says a lot of parents who have been referred to them by DOVVSU for child non-maintenance are now living up to their responsibilities towards their children.
The Officer in charge of non-governmental organisations at the head office of the Department of Social Welfare, Mr Dela Ashiabor, who disclosed this in a telephone interview, explained that after the cases had been referred to them, they invited the parents concerned, looked at the work they did, as well as their salaries, and based on that, reached a compromise of how much to pay to maintain their children.
Mr Ashiabor explained that after a compromise had been reached, in the course of payment if the parents involved failed to honour their obligations for two months or above, the department then sent such parents to court to be compelled to live up to their responsibilities.