The Vulnerability and Responsibility of the Street Children

10 October 2016

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”.

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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. Street children are impoverished of a family care and protection. They need care, shelter, and education and because of not having the basic needs, they are forced to come on the streets in their childhood. Most of the street children have to work in their younger age for their families. Their lives stay at a risk in different means both physically and mentally. During their work they are badly treated with and also humiliated.

Children may end up on streets for several reasons such as family breakdown, armed conflict, poverty, natural disaster, abuse, and exploitation, dislocation through migration, urbanization, acculturation, and diseases like AIDS is another cause. The population of the street children is growing rapidly around the clock. This is happening due to undeveloped rural areas and the inhabitants over there that doesn’t have any land, property or proper shelter. These reasons have pressurized the families to migrate to a city which leads to overpopulation in a city.

Street children especially exist in the major cities of a developing country because of mistreatment and neglect. Unfortunately, even the developed countries don’t have the facilities to undertake them. This has resulted children from these families have to come out on the streets to support themselves and their families. Majority of the children are sent out to the city to earn. Some of them are thrown away from their homes because of abusive family relations and thus places like bus stops, railway stations and market places become their homes and also their work places.

Lack of education, food, medication and other factors are critical issues in this problem. Street children are engaged in some kind of economic activity ranging from begging to vend. The street children are vulnerable during work and as well as in their daily life routine. Street children are often found in bazaars, commercial areas, hotels and parks. Thousands of children mostly work in different areas of a city as a table boy, helpers for steel work, street hawkers, and hotel workers, beggars at streets, truck boy and working with transport industry.

They also try to earn a living through collecting garbage, breaking bricks or pushing rickshaws. Some of them are just involved in petty crimes. Most of the children are insulted in their work and they go home at the end of the day. They contribute their earnings to their families. Due to the economic fragility of the families, they lead a permanent life on the streets. While growing up, these children usually experience severe mortification, social antipathy and considerable danger. As a result, they often grow hostile towards the society.

This hatred and distrust draws the naive street children to involve in criminal activities. Thus, they play an effective role in tainting the society. There are children belonging to very poor families who are deprived and unprivileged and sometime marginalized. Among them there are street children without parents, home or any type of shelter. There are slum children living in the street side or by the side of rail line. These children begin each of the days with the tension of collecting foods. In which age, they should go to school; they have to go in search of livelihood.

They have to work hard till the night. Even sometime they have to be involved in different types of risky jobs, which are threats to their lives. Street children have many problems than any other normal child can have. In the course of their life they have to go through hardships, pain and sadness. It is very natural to see a child in the streets starving, crying for new clothes and many more but nobody reaches a hand towards them because they are distinguished from the society. Many of the street children who have run away from home have done so because they were beaten.

Tragically, their homelessness can lead to further abuse through exploitative child labour. Many children of the streets become emotionally scarred. They refuse to speak for months as they get scarred of the unknown people, any new and unknown encounter traumatizes them. These children often feel guilty and blame themselves for their mistreatment. Such damage to their minds can take years to recover even in the most loving environment and it is impossible on the streets to even heal the person because of society’s bad behavior towards them.

Helping street children requires offering them choices within their environment and assisting them to make their own decisions, which will in time lead away from the street. The mistaken belief that rescuing street children involves removing them from the street as quickly as possible often does more harm than good, resulting in failed rehabilitation and a return to the street. Female children are often discriminated against in the society. Their health, education, prosperity and freedom are all impacted. The society is very narrow-minded towards the girls.

Child marriage is another way in which the girls are disadvantaged. In addition, to limiting educational possibilities and stunting personal development early marriages carry health risk. In many parts of Bangladesh, child marriage is still continued even after the government had put an end to it. India’s female population is less than male. Poor health is another major problem for street children. Half of all street children in many countries are malnourished but the proportion of the street children is higher.

Street dwellers in the city are extremely vulnerable in terms of their health needs, hygiene and utilization of healthcare services and this marginalized group is neglected by public. These children are not only underweight, but their growth is also underdeveloped; for example a twelve year old child can be mistaken for an eight year old. They work and live among garbage and open sewers. They are not only exposed to diseases but they are also unlikely to be vaccinated or receive medical treatment. The children often don’t get the fresh food, clean water to eat or drink.

They grow up in unhygienic environment, so they are infected with many illnesses. They have an uncertain supply of food, education, medical treatment and are at a high risk of addiction and sickness. Most street children have not been vaccinated at all. They usually cannot afford, and do not trust, doctors or medicines. If they receive any treatment at all it will often be harmful, as with kids whose parents place scalding metal on their bellies as a remedy for persistent stomach pain. They suffer from exhaustion, injury, exposure to dangerous chemicals, plus muscle and bone afflictions.

Poverty is the primary cause of the street children crisis. Poverty dumps a crowd of problems onto a child. Not only do these problems cause immediate suffering, they also conspire to keep the child poor throughout his/her life. In order to survive, a child has to sacrifice education and training; without skills the child will, as an adult, remain at the bottom of the economic heap. Though the problems of the street children will not decrease but it is our responsibility to help them with their tribulations. Every person should help a child to overcome their poverty, scared ness of the society and many more.

If we help the children, they will open up to our society and they will be happier. People also should cooperate with the children to make their lives better and also to make a country peaceful about these reasons. We should firstly volunteer with many non-governmental organizations. We should do encouragement for the rights of abused children to make awareness among the general public. We should try to change the mentality approach about these children because these neglected children need to be loved and care like every other child.

There should be a project based service delivery package for this population which can make awareness about rights and responsibilities. There should be a participative approach with children otherwise we cannot bring a productive change. Participative approach of skilled and motivated human resource is an essential part of success of project. We should help out these children by having a shelter base school where we can try our level best to change the society’s mentally approach about these deprived children. So come and join hands with us for this purpose for the prosperity of country and these children.

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. We should try to convince the government to take responsibility towards them. 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.

We should make residential rehabilitation programs which can provide an environment isolated from the streets where activities are focused on assisting children to recover from drug addiction. We should alleviate the worst aspects of street life for children by providing services to them in the streets. We should provide them with a loving and care atmosphere which will make the children to gain confidence and self-esteem. We should create a help centre where the children can have fun and it can be a safe place for them.

We should at least try to run a free school by the help of the government so that the children who work can get a basic education. This will help in improving the economic state of a country. We should also provide nutrition, medical treatment and health centre, repatriation to their families, temporary and permanent shelter. We should spend some moments with the street children so that their hatred towards the society can lessen for example ask their names, what they like to do or their favorite games. We could let them feel like family if we eat together with them.

They will enjoy their meal more happily. We should also share some of our memories with them to create a smile in their face. By doing these things we can improve the lives of the street children, their attitude towards the society and help them in many ways. We all can enjoy being citizens of a country. Our and their lives can change if we are a little conscious about the problems. Everyone can live peacefully in the future and together. Everyone should help out each other when it is needed so that our lives can be much better…

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