There is no international agreement on the definition of street children , and the label of street children is increasingly recognized by sociologists

and anthropolo gists to be a socially constructed category that in reality does not form a clea rly defined, homogeneous population or phenomenon. Street children facts There are an estimated 100 million children living in the streets in the world t oday. Children living on the streets are especially vulnerable to victimization, explo itation, and the abuse of their civil and economic rights. International indifference to the problem has led to continual neglect and abuse of these children. Who are Considered Homeless and Street Children? Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) asserts that States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Homelessn ess denies each one of those rights. According to an Inter-NGO Program on street children and youth, a street child is any girl or boy who has not reached adulth ood, for whom the street (in the widest sense of the word, including unoccupied dwellings, wasteland, etc.) has become his or her habitual abode and/or source o f livelihood, and who is inadequately protected, directed, and supervised by res ponsible adults. US AID has divided Street Children into Four Categories: A Child of the Streets': Children who have no home but the streets, and no family support. They move from place to place, living in shelters and abandoned buildi ngs. A Child on the street': Children who visit their families regularly and might eve n return every night to sleep at home, but spends most days and some nights on t he street because of poverty, overcrowding, sexual or physical abuse at home. Part of a Street Family: These children live on sidewalks or city squares with t he rest of their families. They may be displaced due to poverty, wars, or natura l disasters. The families often live a nomadic life, carrying their possessions with them. Children in this case often work on the streets with other members of their families. In Institutionalized Care: Children in this situation come from a situation of h omelessness and are at risk of returning to a life on the street. (unicef) It is the second and third category of children who are most vulnerable as they are easy victims of abuse, and inhuman treatment. They often engaged in petty th eft or prostitution for economic survival. Children runaway from their homes for a variety of reasons. Some may have faced traumatic experiences in their homes. Their parents may be abusive or have problems with alcoholism, poverty and unem ployment. Some children leave home drawn by the glamour of the big cities. Street children vary across cities and regions. But a majority of these children are boys. It is also important to note girl street children are often not found in visible spaces and hence hard to trace. Age wise 40% of the street children are between 11-15 years while another 33% are between 6-10 years age group. A st udy found that majority (89.8%) of children live on the street with their parent s/family. There are a number of factors that lead children to living on the street. One ro ot cause that has been identified is poverty. But poverty alone does not result in this problem. Other factors to be taken into consideration is the expansion a nd growth of cities, over-population, family disintegration, inadequacy of forma l school institutions leading to large numbers of dropouts and failures, inabili ty of institutions to deal with these problems, etc. Street children mostly live in open air spaces. There are few to no shelters ava ilable in the cities for homeless children. Some may live in a temporary constru cted hut or the house of their employer. Majority of street children work. Almos t 50% of street children are self-employed as rag-pickers, hawkers, and shoeshin e boys, while others work in shops and establishments. Their work hours range be tween 10-13 hours a day. These children are exposed to high health hazards as po

32). In 1989. drinking. And unfortunately. 32). 40). As such street children are often the target of violent rounds ups. etc. What do governments do to help street children? The UNCRC sets out a framework for protection that emphasises the family and com munity as having the main responsibility of caring for children (Art. discrimination (Art. but the figure almost certainly runs into tens of millions across the world. It is likely that the numbers are increasing . Although street children s rights are continually violated or overlooked. gambling. including children living and working on the street. The role of the state is to support and enable families and communities to fulf il this role. O ne -third of street children complain of persecution by such authorities. The 100 million figure is still commonly cited. A street environment is an extremely dangerous place to be for any child. While there are understandable pressures for policies to be informed by aggrega te numbers. as for children living on the streets. lack of access to education (Art. expl oitative and harmful child labour (Art. The right to play of a street child is almost nonexistent as they do not have a ccess to recreational facilities and often venture into activities available to them on the street such as drug abuse.pulation and unhygienic conditions of living. or at least with their encouragement or toleranc . such violence often takes place in th e hands of agents of the State. emotional deprivation (Art. 14 years later UNICEF reported: The latest estimates put the numbers of these children as high as 100 million . 31). but has no basis in fact. 5 and 18). UNICE F estimated 100 million children were growing up on urban streets around the wor ld. 19. 29) and healthcare (Art. However. 20: A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment shall be entitled to special protection and assistance p rovided by the State ). Simila rly. estimates of street child populations. it is an unfortunate fact that in many cases families and communities are not able to be protective and nurturing. sexual abuse and exploitation (Ar t. (childline) How many are there? Estimating numbers of street children is fraught with difficulties. 2). 37). even at city levels. torture (Art. 7). 19 ). And even more recently: The exact number of stre et children is impossible to quantify. det ention and even murder. employers and other people. 33). substance abuse (Art. it is debatable whether numbers of street children are growing globally or whether it is the awareness of street children within societies which has grown. This is partly due to lack o f resources and interest. the state then takes on a greater responsibilit y to fill the gap (Art. they are in ever greater need to have their rights realised. 28. All the work of the Consortium for S treet Children is guided by the framework of the UNCRC. The majority of articles in the UNCRC apply to street children because of their extreme poverty and particular vulnerability to the following: violence (Art. 34. 24). sustainable and holistic approaches implemented by governments. cold and rain. In these cases. community and school. disease (Art. attacks. this is often not the case. Unfortunately. 6). 37. 24) and lack of identity documents (Art. Having no shelter they are constan tly exposed to environmental conditions of heat. arbitrary execution (Art. are ofte n hotly disputed and can distract rather than inform policy makers What about their rights? The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) applies to all children und er the age of 18. Many street children also face harassment by municipal authorities and police. and pr obably no other environment contributes more to potential violations of the UNCR C than a childhood and youth spent outside the institutional framework of family . Although many governments try to addr ess the issue of street children there is a real lack of long-term. or a failure to understand how to deal with the issue in a positive way which does not violate the rights of street children. denial of rights within the juvenil e justice system (Art. Street children also face abuse from their family members.

and inadequate living conditions i ncrease young people's susceptibility to chronic illnesses such as respiratory o r ear infections. initiatives have been taken to assist street chil dren. disable d children are commonly abandoned. Child Hope UK w orking with local groups worldwide.[7] Children fending for themselves must find ways to eat. social welfare. and rai lway platforms In 1992. pioneered the first intensive study on Homeless children ever conducted .[8] The Finnish devised a plan in 1987 including h ouse-building. Drug use by children on the streets is common as they look for means to numb the pain and deal with the hardships associated with street life. based in New Delhi. gastrointestinal disorders. vocational training. European nations that have taken effective steps to ward combating homelessness include Belgium . repeatedly find nowhere to go but the streets. based in Delhi . cigarettes. they have also set up numerous shelters providing basic security. social and emotional growth of children are affected by their nomadi c lifestyles and the way in which they are chastised by authorities who constant ly expel them from their temporary homes such as doorways. The mental. alcohol. healthcare. particularly in developing countries. all focus specificall y on street children. including HIV/AIDS. refugee children of armed conflict areas. counseling. Children living on the street are frequently harassed and arrested by police. and. park benches. Many shelters have programs designed to provide sa fety. Many NGOs have been founded with mission to improve the plight of homeless adult s and youth. The number of homeless people in Finland was cut in half after 10 years. Many homeless children are enti ced by adults and older youth into selling drugs. includin g medicines. the major problem with State programs is that children often reject the alternative assistance offered by the State. Finland . The Effects of Street and Homeless Life Homelessness and street life have extremely detrimental effects on children. The ir unstable lifestyles. India . In many countries. Butterflies. they may be charged with loitering or petty offences. and prostitution. and without representatio n in court. children separated from their fa milies for long periods of time. stealing. On a local and regional level. Studies have foun d that up to 90 percent of street children use psychoactive substances. cannabis. governments have included a right to housing in the national constitution. deprived of their liberty for years in corrective institutions.[9] However. and the acts of violence against them. food. Children who run away from home or children's institutions frequently en d up on the street since they rarely return home due to dysfunctional families. the Netherlands . education. Some shelters also provide regular individual contact. Portug al . mental. Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre (JAC) Society. Casa Alianza. expressing concern over the emergence and marginalization of street children. physical and sexual violence among other abuses of their hum an rights can be a routine occurrence. of ten with hopes that a child will be able to earn money for the family and send i t home. and sexually-transmitted diseases. and entirely unpunished(conmsortium) Vulnerability and Homeless and Street Children Children who are vulnerable to street life include those who have been abandoned by their families or sent into cities because of a family's intense poverty. or physical. offer ing much-needed love and care.e. and Spain . and cl . heroin. In p laces where police culture is extremely negative and discriminatory against childr en or young people. Street Kids International. lack of medical care. legal aid. and readily available indust rial products such as shoe glue. and AIDS orphans. and a duty to provide a dece nt home for every homeless person. s ome scavenge or find exploitative physical work. In several areas of the world. The Resolution called for international c ooperation to address the needs of homeless children and for enforcement of inte rnational child rights laws. often through shelters. In addi tion. the United Nations issued a Resolution on the Plight of Street Children . India. a Canadian-based organization. active in Mexico and Central America. health care service. and oth er social services. and/or sexual abuse.

The traditional place of the woman is in the home and many parents and children consider education for girls . Rag-pickers can be seen alongside p igs and dogs searching through trash heaps on their hands and knees. I-India provides non-formal street schools to ensure that working children get a t least a basic education. Many of the abused children I-India encounters are traumatised and some refuse to speak for months. Tragically. in whi ch boys and girls as young as 6 years old sift through garbage in order to colle ct recyclable material. The rate is 119% in Rajasthan. on the stree ts it may never heal. We nurture community support for our schools and seek to mainstream suitable children into the private education system. begging. We also prov ide popular and practical vocational training where older children can learn ski lls while also earning some money. we seek to provide a warm and car ing atmosphere. tending to animals. and even lower in Rajasthan at 909/100 0. To aggravate matters. street vending. Other common jobs are collecting firewood. A large proportion of the boys and girls in I-India s homes have suffered abuse. it also lea ves them emotionally scarred.000 homeless people in Greater Delhi. whereas the comparab le number in Western Europe is 74%. Our vocational centres are also a safe. abandoned or deliberately neglected and underfed simply because the y are girls. For example. their homelessness can lead to fur ther abuse through exploitative child labour and prostitution. The children usually rise before dawn and carry their he avy load in a large bag over their shoulder. I n addition to fulfilling their material needs. We run a help line for children in need. Gender Discrimination: In Indian Society females are often discriminated against. In Jaipur. Many female babies are aborted. educati on. fun places where childre n gain confidence and self-esteem. prosperity and freedom are all impacted. parents may prefer to have male offspring. Child Labour: Most Indian street children work. Their health. Not only does abuse rob runaway children of their material security. d yeing cloth. Children that work are not only subject to the strains and hazards of their labo ur. (unicef) THE PROBLEMS OF STREET CHILDREN Abuse Child Labour Gender Discrimination Health Homelessness Poverty Abuse: Many of the street children who have run away from home have done so because the y were beaten or sexually abused.othing for more than 50. Further evide nce of the imbalance is that the female/male ratio within the general population of India is unnaturally low at 927/1000. This can be seen in the fact that the female mortality rate amongst 0-4 year olds in India is 106% of the male mortality rate. and our staff are trained by professional counselors as well as have years of experi ence on how to foster the children's emotional development. prostitution and domestic labour. The problem is worse in conservativ e Rajasthan than almost anywhere else in India. Gender discrimination is particularly evident in education where boys are more l ikely to attend school and to do so for more years. they are also denied the education or training that could enable them to esc ape the poverty trap. a common job is rag-picking. because girls carry the liability of dowry and leave the family hom e after marriage. children often feel guilty and blame themselves for their mistreatment. Such damage can take years to recover from in even the most loving of environments.

but their growth has often been stunted. They are exposed to the el ements. only one in ten agai nst Hepatitis B. Street children live and work amidst trash. but powerful. and are at high risk of suffering addiction. The gender parity of adult literacy between men and wome n is 29%. they also conspire to keep the child poor throughout his/her life. If they receive any t reatment at all it will often be harmful. nutrition. as does mainstreaming of children into government schools and offering scholarships to private schools. without skills the child will. or rows of individual children sleeping around the railway station. Polio and Measles. orphaned or have ru n away. We also operat e a Shower Bus that regularly visits street points and offers on-the-spot shower s and cleansing products. injury. Not only do these problems cause immediate suffering . exposure to dangerous chemicals. f or example. They usua lly cannot afford. or because they have been abandoned. For them we provide: repatriation to their families. and do not trust. Half of all children in In dia are malnourished. injury. medical treatment. but for street children the proportion is much higher. Health: Poor health is a chronic problem for street children. I-India prioritizes homeless street children. Street schools provide some education. In order to survive. It is not unusual to see whole families living on the sidewalks of Jaipu r. they are also unlikely to be vaccinat ed or receive medical treatment. shower facilities. abuse and illn ess. are likely to miss out on education an d medical treatment. Tetanus. Child Marriage is another way in which girls are disadvantaged. early marri age carries health risks. Children at these centres lear n skills such as jewellery-making and tailoring which can prove more valuable to . as an adult. Most street children have not been vaccinated at all. medical treatment. but I-India believes in helping where it can. plus muscle and bone afflictions. There are more girls than boy s in our street schools. The se children are not only underweight. The root causes of poverty are beyond a single NGO s power to change. remain at the bottom of the economic heap. Abha Goswami. her child is also more likely to die. as with kids whose parents place scald ing metal on their bellies as a remedy for persistent stomach pain. and a help line. tool to assist children in escaping the poverty trap. Child labourers suffer from exhaustion. Only two in three Indian children have been vac cinated against TB. a poor child in India will probably be forced to sacrifice education a nd training. We employ several full-time nurses and have relationsh ips with hospitals that are willing to treat our children for free. I-India emphasizes care and opportunity for girls. Child labourers suffer from exhaustion. vocational t raining. Homelessness: Street children in India may be homeless because their family is homeless throug h poverty or migration. especially when the child can instead be working or perf orming domestic chores. temporary and permanent shelter. Poverty dumps a crow d of problems onto a child. vocational centres and homes. We also employ many women and do so at all levels up to the founder. exposure to dangerous chemicals. street schools. Diphtheria. animals and open sewers. Not only ar e they exposed and susceptible to disease. A single child alone on the streets is especially vulnerable. Homeless children have the odds stacked against them. have an uncertain supply of food. hygiene and reproductive health e ducation to 5000 children yearly in our street schools and homes. Vocational training centres are a pragmatic. it is very common to mistake a 12 year old for an 8 year old. plus muscle and bone afflictions. Poverty: Poverty is the primary cause of the street children crisis. herself.to be a waste of time. doctors or medicines. In addition to l imiting educational possibilities and stunting personal development. I-India provides nutrition. A girl under 15 is five times more likely to die durin g pregnancy than a woman in her twenties.

and encourages the child and his/her parents to choose vocational training over child labour. Madras. Children come to cities in hope of findi ng new jobs and opportunities for their families. exploited and neglected.700 street children in cities like Bombay. Kanpur. Bangalore and H yderabad and around 100. The money children earn at the centres a lleviates some of their poverty. (i india) moreover.them than additional formal schooling. The Indian embassy estimated 314.000 street children in Delhi(childline) .Because of a lack of permanent shelter and the fact that the number of street children is not recorded in any national survey or study street children are often called the 'hidden children'. Calcutta. I-India has also been active in p romoting Child Rights. children that come to the cities face meagre incomes. Being hidden. poor housing and usually end up on the street. Unfortunately increasing popul ations in the cities. they are at a higher risk to being abuse. Another group that is at risk of ending up on the street are migrant children.

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