As PNG’s economy grows, many children are forced to fend for themselves, on the streets.
This concern comes from a rehabilitation center that is calling for the establishment of more rehabilitation centers to rebuild the lives of people who are treated as criminals.
Most of these people are under aged children and youths who commit crimes to escape their inability to survive in costly environments.
Almost in every town and city all over Papua New Guinea, this scenario creates an impression of the living standard of young urban dwellers.
All this might seem normal but for those who live it, it is their livelihood.
But as living standards improve for some people, many slip into urban poverty.
The concerns raised have come from at least, one rehabilitation program in Lae that point to young offenders who mostly commit crime to survive.
Pastor John Garu is a youth rehabilitation enthusiast who has been involved in a church-run youth rehabilitation program for more than 10 years.
His concern is basic, but complicated.
Broken families and abusive parents are some factors driving children to commit petty crimes.
This gives them an easy way out of the hardships they faced every day in places like Lae where the cost of living is extremely high.
Pastor Garu says under aged offenders should be rehabilitated, and not locked up in prisons.
He says more rehabilitation centers should be established to rehabilitate both underaged and adult offenders.
The outcome of all this, is demonstrated at one of the country’s biggest jails, Buimo.
Juveniles, who are classified as serious offenders, make up 70 % of the inmates there.
The Erap Boys town in Lae is one of the oldest juvenile rehabilitation institutions in the country.
Most of its facilities have crumbled, but are still being used.
But the national government says there will be a different approach.
The government will be focusing on rehabilitating young offenders under close observation from within their own communities.
And while this becomes the focus for rehabilitating juveniles, those who will be taking up the responsibility in shaping these young offenders don’t appear to be ready for it.
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