Street children
Overview
A street child is a child
Child
Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...

 who lives on the streets of a city, deprived of family care and protection. Most children on the streets are between the ages of about 5 and 17 years old.

Street children live in junk boxes, parks or on the street itself. A great deal has been written defining street children, but the primary difficulty is that there are no precise categories, but rather a continuum, ranging from children who spend some time in the streets and sleep in a house with ill-prepared adults, to those who live entirely in the streets and have no adult supervision or care.

A widely accepted set of definitions, commonly attributed to Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

, divides street children into two main categories:
  1. Children on the street are those engaged in some kind of economic activity ranging from begging
    Begging
    Begging is to entreat earnestly, implore, or supplicate. It often occurs for the purpose of securing a material benefit, generally for a gift, donation or charitable donation...

     to vending.
Encyclopedia
A street child is a child
Child
Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...

 who lives on the streets of a city, deprived of family care and protection. Most children on the streets are between the ages of about 5 and 17 years old.

Street children live in junk boxes, parks or on the street itself. A great deal has been written defining street children, but the primary difficulty is that there are no precise categories, but rather a continuum, ranging from children who spend some time in the streets and sleep in a house with ill-prepared adults, to those who live entirely in the streets and have no adult supervision or care.

A widely accepted set of definitions, commonly attributed to Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

, divides street children into two main categories:
  1. Children on the street are those engaged in some kind of economic activity ranging from begging
    Begging
    Begging is to entreat earnestly, implore, or supplicate. It often occurs for the purpose of securing a material benefit, generally for a gift, donation or charitable donation...

     to vending. Most go home at the end of the day and contribute their earnings to their family. They may be attending school and retain a sense of belonging to a family. Because of the economic fragility of the family, these children may eventually opt for a permanent life on the streets.
  2. Children of the street actually live on the street (or outside of a normal family environment). Family ties may exist but are tenuous and are maintained only casually or occasionally.


Street children exist in many major cities, especially in developing countries, and may be subject to abuse
Abuse
Abuse is the improper usage or treatment for a bad purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, sexual assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; wrongful practice or custom; offense; crime, or otherwise...

, neglect
Neglect
Neglect is a passive form of abuse in which a perpetrator is responsible to provide care for a victim who is unable to care for himself or herself, but fails to provide adequate care....

, exploitation
Exploitation
This article discusses the term exploitation in the meaning of using something in an unjust or cruel manner.- As unjust benefit :In political economy, economics, and sociology, exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for...

, or even, in extreme cases, murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 by "cleanup squads
Death squad
A death squad is an armed military, police, insurgent, or terrorist squad that conducts extrajudicial killings, assassinations, and forced disappearances of persons as part of a war, insurgency or terror campaign...

" hired by local businesses or police.

In Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

, and in parts of Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, a common cause is abandonment
Child abandonment
Child abandonment is the practice of relinquishing interests and claims over one's offspring with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting them. Causes include many social and cultural factors as well as mental illness. An abandoned child is called a foundling .-Causes:Poverty is often a...

 by poor families unable to feed all their children. In Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, an increasingly common cause is AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 killing parents, or otherwise rendering them unable to care for their children.

In Western societies, such children tend to be termed "homeless children". According to the Sunnykids
Sunnykids
SunnyKids is an Australian children's charitable organisation. Established in 1999 as a domestic and family violence service on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, the service initially partnered with government and the community to build and purchase a series of properties in the region to...

 children's charity of Australia, homelessness in western societies tends to fall into three categories: Primary (rough sleeping, literally living on the streets); Secondary (moving from place to place, utilizing support such as staying with friends, living in a homeless shelter
Homeless shelter
Homeless shelters are temporary residences for homeless people which seek to protect vulnerable populations from the often devastating effects of homelessness while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact on the community...

) and tertiary (Those known as "at risk" of homelessness, such as children that have a home which they are under significant risk of losing or may be unsafe in).

Definitions

The question of how to define a street child has generated much discussion that is usefully summarized by Sarah Thomas de Benítez in, "The State of the World's Street Children: Violence."
‘Street children’ is increasingly recognized by sociologists and anthropologists to be a socially constructed category that in reality does not form a clearly defined, homogeneous population or phenomenon (Glauser, 1990; Ennew, 2000; Moura, 2002). ‘Street children’ covers children in such a wide variety of circumstances and characteristics that policy-makers and service providers find it difficult to describe and target them. Upon peeling away the ‘street children’ label, individual girls and boys of all ages are found living and working in public spaces, visible in the great majority of the world’s urban centres.

The definition of ‘street children’ is contested, but many practitioners and policymakers use UNICEF’s concept of boys and girls aged under 18 for whom ‘the street’ (including unoccupied dwellings and wasteland) has become home and/or their source of livelihood, and who are inadequately protected or supervised (Black, 1993).

Names

Street Children is a widely used term in the English language and has analogues in other languages such as French (les enfants des rues), Spanish (niños de la calle), Portuguese (meninos de rua), Swedish (gatubarn), Hungarian (utcagyerekek), Romanian (copiii străzii) and German (Straßenkinder). Street kids is also commonly employed although it is sometimes considered pejorative. In other languages children who live and/or work in the streets are known by many names. Some examples are listed below:
  • "huelepegas" (glue sniffers) in Nicaragua
  • "chemos" (glue sniffers) in Mexico
  • "gamín" (from French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

     gamin, kid)
  • "chinches" (bed bugs) in Colombia
  • "pivetes" (little criminals/marginals) in Rio de Janeiro
  • "pájaro frutero" (fruit bird) and "pirañitas" (little piranhas) in Peru
  • "polillas" (moths) in Bolivia
  • "resistoleros" (glue sniffers; Resistol is a major brand) in Honduras
  • "scugnizzi" (spinning tops) in Naples
  • "беспризорники" - besprizorniki (the unsupervised) in Russia
  • "batang lansangan"/"batang kalye" (street child), "palaboy" (waif or vagrant, also a general term applied to homeless people), or "rugby boys" (glue sniffers; Rugby is a brand of wood glue) in the Philippines
  • "Bụi Đời" (the dust of life) in Vietnam
  • "saligoma" (dirty kid, from French sale gamin) in Rwanda
  • "poussins" (chicks), "moustiques" (mosquitos) in Cameroon
  • "balados" (wanderers) in the democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congo Republic.


The term Street Arab came to the fore in the mid-19th century, first appearing in 1848, according to the OED. Horatio Alger's book Tattered Tom ; or, The Story of a Street Arab (1871) is an early example; it is about a homeless girl who lives by her wits on the streets of New York. Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 likewise propagated its early use in 1855, if in a more clearly derogatory sense, when he declared "a wretched, ragged, untaught street Arab boy is ugly." In 1890, Danish-American journalist Jacob Riis
Jacob Riis
Jacob August Riis was a Danish American social reformer, "muckraking" journalist and social documentary photographer. He is known for using his photographic and journalistic talents to help the impoverished in New York City; those impoverished New Yorkers were the subject of most of his prolific...

 described street children in New York in an essay titled "The Street Arab". The Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 association of street children with Arabs is probably reflected in the nomadic tradition of the Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

; the 19th century notion that non-Europeans from less civilized cultures were like children; of European and American travelers who saw many "street children" in Arab countries during the period; and a xenophobic
Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek words ξένος , meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος , meaning "fear."...

 tendency to scapegoat
Scapegoat
Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame. Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals , individuals against groups , groups against individuals , and groups against groups Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any...

 social problems. The term has fallen out of favor.

Numbers

Estimates vary but one often cited figure is that the number of children living independently in the streets totals between 150 million and 200 million worldwide.

According to a report from the Consortium for Street Children, a United Kingdom-based consortium of related NGOs:

Estimating numbers of ‘street children’ is fraught with difficulties. In 1989, UNICEF
estimated 100 million children were growing up on urban streets around the world. 14
years later UNICEF reported: ‘The latest estimates put the numbers of these children as
high as 100 million’ (UNICEF, 2002: 37). And even more recently: ‘The exact number of
street children is impossible to quantify, but the figure almost certainly runs into tens
of millions across the world. It is likely that the numbers are increasing’ (UNICEF, 2005:
40-41). The 100 million figure is still commonly cited, but has no basis in fact (see Ennew
and Milne, 1989; Hecht, 1998; Green, 1998). Similarly, 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.

Distribution

Street children may be found on every inhabited continent in a large majority of the world's cities. The following estimates indicate the global extent of street child populations.
  • India 11 million
  • China 150,000
  • Egypt 1.5 million
  • Pakistan 1.5 million
  • Kenya 250,000 - 300,000
  • Philippines 250,000
  • Congo 250,000
  • Morocco 30,000
  • Brazil 25,000
  • Germany 20,000
  • Honduras 20,000
  • Jamaica 6,500
  • Mongolia 4,000
  • Uruguay 3,000

History

Children making their home/livelihoods on the street is not a new or modern phenomenon. In the introduction to his history of abandoned children in Soviet Russia 1918 -1930, Alan Ball states:
Orphaned and abandoned children have been a source of misery from earliest times. They apparently accounted for most of the boy prostitutes in Augustan Rome and, a few centuries later, moved a church council of 442 in southern Gaul to declare: “Concerning abandoned children: there is general complaint that they are nowadays exposed more to dogs than to kindness.” In Tsarist Russia, seventeenth-century sources described destitute youths roaming the streets, and the phenomenon survived every attempt at eradication thereafter. Long before the Russian Revolution, the term besprizornye had gained wide currency.

In 1848 Lord Ashley
Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury
Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury KG , styled Lord Ashley from 1811 to 1851, was an English politician and philanthropist, one of the best-known of the Victorian era and one of the main proponents of Christian Zionism.-Youth:He was born in London and known informally as Lord Ashley...

 referred to more than 30,000 'naked, filthy, roaming lawless and deserted children', in and around London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

.

By 1922 there were at least 7 million homeless children in Russia as a result of nearly a decade of devastation from World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

. Abandoned children formed gang
Gang
A gang is a group of people who, through the organization, formation, and establishment of an assemblage, share a common identity. In current usage it typically denotes a criminal organization or else a criminal affiliation. In early usage, the word gang referred to a group of workmen...

s, created their own argot, and engaged in petty theft and prostitution.

Causes

Children may end up on the streets for several basic reasons: They may have no choice – they are abandoned, orphaned, or disowned by their parents. Secondly, they may choose to live in the streets because of mistreatment or neglect or because their homes do not or cannot provide them with basic necessities. Many children also work in the streets because their earnings are needed by their families. But homes and families are part of the larger society and the underlying reasons for the poverty or breakdown of homes and families may be social, economic, political or environmental or any combination of these.

In a 1993 report, WHO
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

 offered the following list of causes for the phenomenon:
  • family breakdown
  • armed conflict
  • poverty
  • natural and man-made disasters
  • famine
  • physical and sexual abuse
  • exploitation by adults
  • dislocation through migration
  • urbanization and overcrowding
  • acculturation
  • disinheritance or being disowned


The orphaning of children as a result of HIV/AIDS is another cause that might be added to this list.

Russia

In Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, street children usually find a home in underground pipe and cable collectors during the harsh winter. These underground homes offer space, shelter and most importantly of all, heat from hot water and central heating pipes.

Russia has 1 million street children, and one in four crimes involves underage youths. Officially, the number of children without supervision is more than 700,000. However, experts believe the real figure has long been between 2 and 4 million.

China

The number of China's urban street children is growing. Based on the number of children passing through protection centres, the Ministry of Civil Affairs estimates that there are around 150,000. Many come from migrant families; others migrate to urban areas by themselves to escape the harsh conditions they face in rural areas. They are vulnerable to risks on the street and many resort to crime.

The traditional approach to managing street children has been to pick them up, detain them for a while, and then send them back to their families. But many have left home because of family problems and are unwilling to return, or their families are unable to care for them. As a result, they soon go back to the street.

India

India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 is home to the world’s largest population of street children, estimated at 18 million. The Republic of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 is the seventh largest and second most populous country in the world. With acceleration in economic growth, India has become one of the fastest growing developing countries. This has created a rift between poor and rich; 22 percent of the population lives below the income poverty line. Owing to unemployment, increasing rural-urban migration, attraction of city life and a lack of political will, India now has one of the largest number of child laborers in the world.

Street children are subject to malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

, hunger, health problems, substance abuse, theft, commercial sexual exploitation
Commercial sexual exploitation of children
Commercial sexual exploitation of children constitutes a form of coercion and violence against children and amounts to forced labour and a contemporary form of slavery....

, harassment by the city police and railway authorities, as well as physical and sexual abuse, although the Government of India has taken some corrective measures and declared child labor illegal.

Vietnam

According to data by the Street Educators’ Club, the number of street children in Vietnam has shrunk from 21,000 in 2003 to 8,000 in 2007. The number dropped from 1,507 to 113 in Hanoi
Hanoi
Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam...

 and from 8,507 to 794 in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City , formerly named Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam...

. In the meantime the number of migrant children is increasing. This number is, however, unconfirmed owing to varying definitions of street children. Some experts mention several different categories of street children in Vietnam: "children who have run away from home or who have no home, and who sleep on the street; children who sleep on the street with their family or guardian; children who have a family or guardian and who usually sleep at home, but work on the streets; economic migrants who rent rooms with other working children; and bonded laborers".

There are almost 400 humanitarian organisations and international non-governmental organizations providing help for about 15,000 children, who live in especially difficult conditions.

Pakistan

The number of street children in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 is estimated to be anywhere between 1.2 million to 1.5 million, making it a host to one of the world's largest street children populations behind countries such as India and Egypt. There is a wide gap in standards of living between the upper class and the less privileged, giving rise to a large segment of the population (and subsequently, young children) living in poverty. Street children in Pakistan are subject to a number of social issues, including homelessness, malnutrition, domestic physical and mental abuse, forced labour, beggary, coercion into drugs and marginalisation from mainstream society. Most are found alongside slums and roads of the country's major urban centres. Due to poverty, many of them are driven into finding work such as recycling, polishing shoes, washing cars or selling roadside foods and cheap items, in order to make a living. There have been efforts in the past by UNICEF and some NGOs to assist the plight of the needy children through various programs and by opening rehabilitation centers; however, the situation still remains, at large, one of the biggest socio-economic problems in Pakistan today.

Bucharest, Romania

A report of the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

 of year 2000 estimated that there were approximately 1,000 street children in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

.

Some Romanian street children are preyed on by sex tourists, mainly from Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, and many can be seen inhaling
Inhalant
Inhalants are a broad range of drugs whose volatile vapors are taken in via the nose and trachea. They are taken by volatilization, and do not include drugs that are inhaled after burning or heating...

 aurolac (an aluminium-based paint traditionally used for painting a type of wood-burning stove) from plastic bags, the substance
Psychoactive drug
A psychoactive drug, psychopharmaceutical, or psychotropic is a chemical substance that crosses the blood–brain barrier and acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it affects brain function, resulting in changes in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior...

 of choice for those of limited means
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

.

Romania has made much progress, allowing the number of street children drop to low levels, which is lying at or below the European average. Given that socio-economic conditions continue to improve in Romania, the number of street children is expected to diminish.

Brazil

The Brazilian Government estimates that children and adolescents who work or sleep on the streets of the country are around 23,973, considering 75 Brazilian cities with more than 300 thousand inhabitants. And 63% ended up there because of domestic violence. The results were obtained from the national census mandated by the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency (SDH) and the Institute for Sustainable Development (Idesp).

The Philippines

According to the 1998 report, entitled "Situation of the Youth in the Philippines," there are about 1.5 million street children in the Philippines.

75% of street children in the Philippines spend the night in the homes of their families, but spend the rest of the day working in the street. Between 25%-30% of street children often create a sort of family among fellow street children, and some of them may maintain an interrupted relationship with their families and the homes of their families. 5%-10% of street children are completely abandoned.
Street Children as young as 10 years old are often imprisoned under the Vagrancy Act, sometimes in cells which include adults, resulting in recurrent physical and sexual abuse, sometimes by guards as well.

Many street children were in danger of summary execution
Summary execution
A summary execution is a variety of execution in which a person is killed on the spot without trial or after a show trial. Summary executions have been practiced by the police, military, and paramilitary organizations and are associated with guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, and...

 during the Marcos Government. Human rights groups said the killings have become an unwritten government policy to deal with the street children phenomenon, and that they are openly endorsed by local officials, strengthening the long-running suspicion that the death squads were formed by the government.

Ethiopia

According to the Bible society
Bible society
A Bible society is a non-profit organization devoted to translating, publishing, distributing the Bible at affordable costs and advocating its credibility and trustworthiness in contemporary cultural life...

, an estimated 600,000 children live on the streets of Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

.

Responses by governments

Because they have not reached the age of majority, street children have no representation in the governing process. They have no vote themselves nor by proxy through their parents, from whom they likely are alienated. Nor do street children have any economic leverage. Governments, consequently, may pay little attention to them.

The rights of street children are often ignored by governments even though nearly all of the world's governments have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Governments are often embarrassed by street children and may blame parents or neighboring countries.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) may also be blamed for encouraging children to live in the streets by making street life more bearable or attractive through the services they provide.

When governments implement programs to deal with street children these generally involve placing the children in orphanages, juvenile homes or correctional institutes. However, some children are in the streets because they have fled from such institutions and some governments prefer to support or work in partnership with NGO programs. Governments sometimes institute roundups when they remove all the children from city streets and deposit them elsewhere or incarcerate them.

In the most extreme cases, governments may tacitly accept or participate in social cleansing operations that murder street children.

NGO responses

Non-government organizations employ a wide variety of strategies to address the needs and rights of street children. These may be categorized as follows:
  • Advocacy - through media and government contacts agencies may press for the rights of street children to be respected.
  • Preventive - programs that work to prevent children from taking to the streets, through family and community support and education.

  • Institutional
    • residential rehabilitation programs - some agencies provide an environment isolated from the streets where activities are focussed on assisting children to recover from drug, physical or sexual abuse.
    • full-care residential homes - the final stage in many agencies' programs is when the child is no longer in the streets but lives completely in an environment provided by the agency. Some agencies promote fostering children to individual families. Others set up group homes where a small number of children live together with houseparents employed by the agency. Others set up institutional care centers catering to large numbers of children. Some agencies include a follow-up program that monitors and counsels children and families after the child has left the residential program.

  • Street-based programs - these work to alleviate the worst aspects of street life for children by providing services to them in the streets. These programs tend to be less expensive and serve a larger number of street children than institutional programs since the children still must provide for themselves in the streets.
    • feeding program
    • medical services
    • legal assistance
    • street education
    • financial services (banking and entrepreneur programs)
    • family reunification
    • drop-in centres/night shelters
    • outreach programs designed to bring the children into closer contact with the agency
  • Conscientization - change street children's attitudes to their circumstances - view themselves as an oppressed minority and become protagonists rather than passive recipients of aid.


Many agencies employ several of these strategies and a child will pass through a number of stages before he or she "graduates". First he/she will be contacted by an outreach program, then may become involved in drop-in center programs, though still living in the streets. Later the child may be accepted into a halfway house and finally into residential care where he or she becomes fully divorced from street life.

In popular fiction

Examples from popular fiction include Kipling's “Kim
Kim (novel)
Kim is a picaresque novel by Rudyard Kipling. It was first published serially in McClure's Magazine from December 1900 to October 1901 as well as in Cassell's Magazine from January to November 1901, and first published in book form by Macmillan & Co. Ltd in October 1901...

” as a street child in colonial India, and Gavroche
Gavroche
Gavroche is a fictional character from the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.-Gavroche in the novel:Gavroche is the eldest son of M. and Mme Thénardier. He has two sisters, Éponine and Azelma, and two unnamed younger brothers. He is also technically unnamed; the reader is told he chooses the...

 in Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

's Les Misérables
Les Misérables
Les Misérables , translated variously from the French as The Miserable Ones, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims), is an 1862 French novel by author Victor Hugo and is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century...

. Fagin's crew of child pickpockets in "Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to...

" as well as Sherlock Holmes's "Baker Street Irregulars
Baker Street Irregulars
The Baker Street Irregulars are any of several different groups, all named after the original, from various Sherlock Holmes stories in which they are a gang of young street children whom Holmes often employs to aid his cases.- Original :...

" attest to the presence of street children in 19th-century London.

A recent award winning film is Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British epic romantic drama adventure film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Simon Beaufoy, and co-directed in India by Loveleen Tandan. It is an adaptation of the novel Q & A by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup...

,
in which one "slumdog" or street kid from Mumbai, makes his way through life to become a millionaire and finds his long-time love after a series of mishaps.

See also

  • Benposta
    Benposta
    Benposta , known in Spanish as "Ciudad de los Muchachos" , is a communal charitable organization for troubled youth. Benpostas are places for abandoned, marginalized youth around the world...

  • Casa Alianza
    Casa Alianza
    Casa Alianza is an international not for profit organisation and the Latin American branch of Covenant House. It is a charity and NGO whose aims are the rehabilitation and the defence of street children. It was first set up in Guatemala in 1981, then in both Honduras and Mexico in 1986, then in...

  • Covenant House
    Covenant House
    Covenant House is the largest privately funded agency in the Americas providing shelter, food, immediate crisis care, and an array of other services to homeless, and runaway youth. In addition to basic needs, Covenant House provides a continuum of care to homeless youth aged 16–21 designed to...

  • Friends International
    Friends International
    Friends International is an international NGO that specializes in working with marginalised urban children and youth and their families and communities to become productive and independent citizens of their country...

  • Homelessness
    Homelessness
    Homelessness describes the condition of people without a regular dwelling. People who are homeless are unable or unwilling to acquire and maintain regular, safe, and adequate housing, or lack "fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence." The legal definition of "homeless" varies from country...

  • Kotjebi
    Kotjebi
    Kotjebi or kotchebi is a Korean term denoting North Korean homeless children. The term literally means "fluttering swallows", given because of the kotjebi's constant search for food and shelter...

  • Orphan
    Orphan
    An orphan is a child permanently bereaved of or abandoned by his or her parents. In common usage, only a child who has lost both parents is called an orphan...

  • Relational care
  • Runaway youth
    Runaway youth
    A runaway is a minor or a person under an arbitrary age, depending upon the local jurisdiction, who has left the home of his or her parent or legal guardian without permission, or has been thrown out by his or her parent and is considered by the local authorities to lack the capacity to live under...

  • Street children in the Philippines
    Street Children in The Philippines
    Street Children in the Philippines is a significant problem.According to the 1998 report, entitled "Situation of the Youth in the Philippines," there are about 1.5 million street children in the Philippines...

  • Waif
    Waif
    A waif is a living creature removed, by hardship, loss or other helpless circumstance, from his original surroundings...


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