A street child is a young person, under the age of fifteen, who lives and
sleeps in the streets, whose family ties are broken and who can't or won't return home. Street children live in the streets without their families. Each child has to learn how to survive alone, since no adult takes responsibility of them. Often they are very young and completely ignored by their families. These children don't like to be called as "street children". They live, or rather struggle to survive, they are usually in the downtown area, near stations and shopping malls, places, which are lit up at night or in garbage dumps, in railway stations or under bridges in most major cities of developing countries around the world. To avoid being caught, street children are the last to go to sleep and the first to get up: that's why they're often worn out, and can be found sleeping during the day. They group together at night. Amongst children in the street, there are; children who work, children from slums, runaways and delinquents.
Other children may spend most of their time in the street, but maintain
certain link to their families. The distinction between these two categories is not always clear, but it is important. Two separate social groups definitely exist.
Some countries even deny the existence of the phenomenon, in order
to minimize the problem or simply because the society is sincerely ignorant of this, hidden issue. Frightened of institutions where they are poorly treated, children don't want to be known or recognized. However, this is an inevitable phenomenon that there are lots of children working and living in the streets and it has been a major concern for most of the countries in the world. It is an universal phenomena. In order
to save these children and offer solutions, we have to begin by adressing their most desperate and urgent problems.
First of all their immediate problems, which require urgent actions, are;
hunger, filth, disease, loneliness, delinquency, violence of all kind, prostitution, etc. Finding things to eat is not the main problem for the street children; they share their food among themselves. However, many children die of malnutrition, as result of poor eating habits. All street children complain constantly about filth. They have a hard time finding a place to wash their clothes. This is the reason that parasites and microbes always infect the children. Therefore, a safe and a clean place where they can wash their clothes is very important for them.
Another vital problem is the diseases, when street children get sick,
who takes care of them? Where can they go for treatment? The need for treatment of the child's psychological health is the other essential point. Loneliness is the greatest of the street children's problems. They no longer have their parents, nor any other adult to talk to, no adult is available to talk with. Also majority of the people look down on them and children feel the indifference. We all need love, especially small children. Just a smile can be enough. The absence of love often, makes the street child vulnerable and ready for all sorts of abnormal behavior, such as theft, drug addiction and prostitution. As a result, they are dealt with as offenders.
On the other hand, they can easily come across with many people with
bad intentions like, child murderers, lunatics, psychopaths, bad policemen, etc. These are all frightens children, especially at night. Then, over time, the children no longer feel fear, but become accustomed to all the surrounding violence, even the
most evil ones, and eventually become indifferent to the thought of death. At this point, they may become violent or die because of a psychological illness. "Eventually these lead to victimization; sexual abuse and prostitution, substance abuse, various forms of labor exploitation. They also eventually get involved in petty crimes and end up in the juvenile justice system."
Above all these,...
Bibliography: Baizermann, Tom. Homeless Children. Oxford University Press. New York. 1990.
Smith, Jane. Promise and Progress. Cambridge University Press, London, 1998.
Grant, James. Strategies for Children in the 2000. New York, N.Y, UNICEF, 1999.
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