Street Children are broadly categorized into two main groups – children who work on the street but who maintain family ties and return home to sleep and those with limited family ties that end up spending most of their days and nights in the street. Since street children are not tied to a strong family structure or at least not a family that has sufficient resources, their health, nutrition and education needs get overlooked.
The reasons for the ever-increasing number of street children are manifold, ranging from lack of economic resources, migration, kidnapping, running away from home, addiction to violence. This makes these children extremely vulnerable to the elements which harm them and their peers and their propensity towards negative behaviors and potential for unemployment also increases.
While preventive interventions are essential, those children already facing the hardships of street life need immediate opportunities for human development via special protection programs.
Children end up on the streets for one or more of the following reasons:
- Low family income. Many work in the street to contribute to family survival.
- Homelessness. In both rich and poor countries, the lack of proper housing pushes entire
families into the street.
- Neglect and abuse. This problem may be associated with parents’ drug addiction and
alcoholism, or the lack of time spent in significant interaction.
- School failure.
- Loss of parents due to armed conflicts, natural disasters, HIV/AIDS and other epidemics, and
Street work includes odd jobs, petty trading, and services. Because of the lack of protection in these jobs, there is a greater risk of exploitation and of encountering health hazards. Many children make a living through illegal activities such as begging, selling drugs, petty theft, and prostitution.
Many street children do not go to school; others perform poorly in class and are at high risk of dropping out. Because of the peculiar nature of their life and problems, the skills required to survive on the street, and the lack of parental support, these children find it difficult to adjust to standard school curricula and school discipline. Also, as mentioned earlier, many street children have never had, or have lost, their birth certificates, a document vital to legal and civic existence.