More children are reporting their parents to the Domestic Violence and Victims’ Support Unit (DOVVSU) for parental neglect, the Accra Regional Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Freeman Tettey has disclosed.
DSP Tettey, who also speaks for the National Secretariat of DOVVSU, said “the children, some of whom are junior high school and senior high school students below the age of 18 walk to our offices, sometimes alone or accompanied by adults to report such cases of neglect to us”.
“We then call their parents and guardians to settle the cases. Sometimes, we refer the cases to the Department of Social Welfare.”
While commending the children for the bold step they have begun taking to report their negligent parents, he encouraged other children in similar situations to go to any DOVVSU office located at the various police stations to lodge complaints.
He explained that at police stations where there are no DOVVSU offices, children would be assisted with an extract to the nearest DOVVSU office to lodge their complaints.
“Our officers have been specially trained to handle your cases. The most important thing is for you, children, to come to our offices to lodge the complaints,” he encouraged.
DSP Tettey stated that it was a criminal offence for parents to neglect their responsibilities towards their children. He added that DOVVSU had begun putting guilty parents before court for various offences including the non-payment of fees and failure to provide for other needs of their children.
“Those parents were fined by the courts and also asked to pay certain amounts of money as maintenance fees for the upkeep of the children.
“We do not believe it is good for parents to be jailed for negligence. We are mindful not to break the father/child relationship and that is why we first prevail on parents to perform their responsibilities. But it is when they fail, that we send them to court,” he explained.
Figures from the National Secretariat of DOVVSU indicated that non-maintenance cases continue to rise.
In 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, 6897, 4798, 5830 and 6194 cases of non- maintenance were recorded.
However DSP Tettey attributed the rise to the fact that a lot more people were reporting parents and guardians for neglecting their responsibilities.