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Child Marriage

Female child poverty in India

Marriage is a formally recognised legal union between two people in a relationship. However, many girls around the world are subject to marriage against their will at a very young age. Child marriage occurs where at least one party to the marriage is under 18 years old. It is a type of forced marriage as one party does not freely consent to the marriage and may be coerced into marrying[1]. Child marriage is a practice which disproportionality affects girls more than boys with one in five girls being married before they reach the age of 18 compared to one in thirty boys[2]. It is often the result of gender inequality.

According to UNICEF, the number of child marriages has decreased globally from one in four girls marrying almost ten years ago to around one in five girls marrying today[3]. Nevertheless, the practice is still a global issue which is prevalent in many areas around the world. If it continues, by 2030, almost one billion girls will be subject to marriage at a young age[4].

In this article, we will firstly look at child marriage in the context of human rights and will consider where the practice remains predominate in the world. We will then explore the main drivers behind child marriage. Next, we will discuss the negative consequences of child marriage on girls today. Lastly, we will examine what may help to eradicate the practice globally.

Child marriage and human rights

Treaties and conventions

Child marriage is a practice which significantly violates a person’s human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which paved the way for subsequent human rights treaties, was adopted in 1948 and states in Article 16 that ‘[m]arriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.’ This was later reinforced in Article 1 of the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages which came into force in 1964.

In 1979 the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted and according to Article 16, men and women have the same right to marriage. They also have ‘the same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent’. Article 16 goes on to state that ‘[t]he betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage….’ Thus, it is clear that pressurising girls to marry against their will at a young age breaches the rights set out in these international treaties and conventions.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the main international treaty concerning children’s rights, does not specifically address child marriage. However, other rights contained within this Convention are linked to the practice. These include the right to freedom of expression (Article 13) and protection from violence and abuse (Article 19).

Resolutions and goals

Over a number of years, the United Nations has adopted many resolutions aimed at tackling the problem of child marriage. In 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution entitled ‘[s]trengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage: challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps’[5] and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has set the goal of eliminating all ‘harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation’ as one its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals[6].

Where is the practice prevalent?

Despite being a human rights violation, the practice still takes place in no less than 117 countries around the world[7]. According to UNICEF, the highest rate of child marriage is in sub-Saharan Africa where 35% of girls are subject to marriage before the age of 18. South Asia follows this where 30% of girls are subject to marriage before the age of 18. Other countries where the practice remains prevalent include Latin America and Caribbean (24%); the Middle East and North Africa (17%) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (12%)[8].

The reasons behind child marriage

Two girls in India subject to child marriage

Female child poverty

Poverty is one of the main causes of child marriage globally. Girls residing in poorer families are twice as likely to be subject to marriage before they reach the age of 18 than girls residing in better-off families[9]. Girls are often seen as placing an economic burden upon families and are regarded as expensive to educate, feed and clothe[10]. Therefore, families, and sometimes the girls themselves, regard marriage as a way of becoming financially secure and escaping poverty[11]. Due to the significant issue of gender inequality which is prevalent in many countries, girls often lack education and are dependent upon men economically. Accordingly, they may regard marriage as the only way to become financially better-off.

Dowries and ‘bride prices’

Additionally, often a girl’s family pay a dowry to the groom’s family. Normally, the younger the bride, the smaller the dowry. This is an incentive for families to subject their daughters to marriage at a young age[12]. Similarly, in situations where a groom’s family pays the bride’s family a ‘bride price’, families suffering from economic hardship may choose to marry their daughter at a young age in return for an economic profit[13]. Sadly, due to COVID-19, there has been many school closures and the pandemic has had a significant economic impact on many families and communities. Consequently, many more girls are at risk of the practice[14].

Social and cultural norms

The most significant driver of child marriage is poverty, however, the practice also occurs due to social and cultural rules. Child marriage is a ‘norm’ in many communities and if families do not coincide with the practice, their own communities may regard them as outsiders or exclude them[15]. Therefore, many parents marry their daughters young to gain social status. Furthermore, due to widespread patriarchal systems, women are often subservient to men. In certain countries, girls who have relationships outside marriage or fall pregnant before marriage bring disgrace and shame to their families. Therefore, parents may decide to marry their daughters at a young age to protect them and their family’s social position within communities[16].

Negative effects and consequences

Sick child in poverty

Social and mental health problems

The practice has many negative consequences on the lives of girls around the world socially, mentally and physically. Girls who marry at a young age no longer attend school and this therefore hinders their access to education[17]. Furthermore, the practice has a significant impact on the mental health of many girls. When girls marry at a young age, they have to move in with their husband’s family and the husband’s family home may be in a different town. Thus, girls may no longer be able to maintain social connections with people outside their new families. Additionally, due to the dowry paid, a girl’s husband may be older than her. Accordingly, she may not share the same interests as her husband. Once married, girls may also have children. Consequently, they lose their adolescence, freedom to play and make friends which can result in isolation and depression[18].

Physical health problems

Furthermore, girls face many physical health problems as a result of the practice. Many families believe that marrying their daughters at a young age protects them from sexually transmitted infections. However, this is not necessarily true. Research has shown that in Kenya, girls who are married are 50% more likely to have HIV than girls who are not married[19] and in Zambia, this is 59%[20]. Furthermore, girls who are subject to marriage at a young age are often not ready to have sexual intercourse or reproduce[21]. Statistics have shown that girls who are aged between 10 and 14 are five to seven times more likely to pass away during childbirth and girls aged between 15 and 19 are twice as likely to pass away during childbirth[22].

Additionally, young girls often face prolonged childbirth resulting in obstetric fistula.  Commentators have stated that girls who have suffered from obstetric fistula experience incontinence, shame and other health issues[23]. Alarmingly, between 50,000 and 100,000 women suffer from obstetric fistula every year and according to the World Health Organization, over 2 million girls in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are living with this condition and it is not being treated[24].

What will eradicate the practice?

Increasing education

In order to tackle the problem of child marriage, there needs to be a focus on education. Girls subject to child marriage should develop knowledge about the consequences of marrying young. They also need to learn about the affect the practice may have on their futures. If there is legislation tackling the practice, girls need to know that this legislation exists. They should additionally become aware of who to get in touch with should they need help[25]. The parents of young girls also need to be educated about the risks of child marriage and should become aware of the fact that forcing their daughters to marry at a young age could be breaking the law. Furthermore, local community leaders need to be provided with education about the impact of child marriage. As role models, this could help to shift local community patterns and beliefs[26].

Working with local communities

Additionally, there needs to be more ground work within the local communities. Local governments need to enforce campaigns fighting against the practice. There also needs to be local media coverage and local NGOs must directly work with communities[27]. NGOs should also offer psychological assistance to victims[28]. It has been found that the programmes which are most successful at preventing child marriages are those which have given families financial incentives to keep girls at school, those which feed children during school (removing the burden of parents having to do this), and those which give employment opportunities to girls once they have finished school[29].

ActionAid, an international charity, has carried out significant work to end child marriage.Local ActionAid staff worked alongside a co-operative women’s group in India and ActionAid’s partner organisation called Swaraj to raise awareness about the impact of the practice, the importance of girls remaining in school, and girls’ rights to choose who and when they marry. In the community, young women used to marry at 15 or 16 years old. However, after raising awareness about the negative consequences of child marriage, the average age has increased. Now most women in the community do not marry until they are 22 years old[30].

Conclusion

Overall, it is clear that child marriage is still a widespread practice and it is a serious violation of a person’s human rights. Poverty primarily drives child marriage in many regions, however, it is also a deeply-rooted practice which occurs as a result of cultural and social norms. The practice negatively affects girls’ mental and physical health and wellbeing, their social life and their education. There needs to be more education along with cooperation with local governments, NGOs and the media to help raise awareness about the negative impact of child marriage on girls and eliminate the practice all together.

Footnotes

[1]United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, ‘Child and forced marriage, including in humanitarian settings’ https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WRGS/Pages/ChildMarriage.aspx> accessed 13 May 2021

[2]UNICEF, ‘115 million boys and men around the world married as children – UNICEF’, <https://www.unicef.org.uk/press-releases/115-million-boys-and-men-around-the-world-married-as-children-unicef/> accessed 21 May 2021

[3]UNICEF, ‘Child marriage’ <https://www.unicef.org/protection/child-marriage> accessed 13 May 2021

[4]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (December 2016) <https://www.womenalliance.org/child-marriage-a-practice-driven-by-poverty> accessed 13 May 2021

[5]United Nations Human Rights Council, ‘Resolution Adopted by the Human Rights Council, Strengthening Efforts to Prevent and Eliminate Child, Early and Forced Marriage: Challenges, Achievements, Best Practices and Implementation Gaps (A/HRC/RES/24/23)’ 2013

[6]Goal 5.3, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, ‘Sustainable Development Goals,’ Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform < https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300> accessed 13 May 2021

[7]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[8]UNICEF, ‘Child marriage is a violation of human rights, but is all too common’ (April 2020) <https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/child-marriage/> accessed 13 May 2021

[9]ICRW, ‘Child marriage and poverty’ <https://www.icrw.org/files/images/Child-Marriage-Fact-Sheet-Poverty.pdf> accessed 13 May 2021

[10]Nour, Nawal M. “Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue.” Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology vol. 2,1 (2009): 51-6

[11]Girls Not Brides, ‘About child marriage’ <https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/about-child-marriage/why-child-marriage-happens/> accessed 13 May 2021

[12]United Nations Population Fund, ‘Child marriage – Frequently Asked Questions’ (January 2020) <https://www.unfpa.org/child-marriage-frequently-asked-questions> accessed 13 May 2021

[13]ibid

[14]United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, ‘Child and forced marriage, including in humanitarian settings’ (n 1)

[15]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[16]Girls Not Brides, ‘About child marriage’ (n 11)

[17]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[18]Nour, Nawal M. “Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue.” Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology vol. 2,1 (2009): 51-6

[19]ibid

[20]ibid

[21]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[22]Nour, Nawal M. “Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue.” Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology vol. 2,1 (2009): 51-6

[23]Nyasha Chingono, My dreams were destroyed’: poverty costs child brides dear in Zimbabwe’ The Guardian (04 January 2019)

[24]World Health Organization, ‘Obstetric fistula’ (19 February 2018) <https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/10-facts-on-obstetric-fistula> last accessed 21 May 2021

[25]Plan International, ‘Ending Child Marriage’ <https://plan-uk.org/about/our-work/child-marriage> accessed 24 May 2021

[26]ibid

[27]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[28]ibid

[29]Nour, Nawal M. “Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue.” Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology vol. 2,1 (2009): 51-6

[30]ActionAid, ‘Child Marriage’ < https://www.actionaid.org.uk/our-work/womens-rights/child-marriage> last accessed 24 May 2021

Disability in Street Children: Causes and Impacts

Young boy in poverty in developing region.

Overview

A large number of children living with disabilities are living in developing regions (1). This is very important here at Poverty Child as many of these children are living on the street. This is a large public health concern, as disability in street children can greatly impact children’s physical and mental health.

Street children and poverty

Work at Poverty Child aims to improve the lives and outcomes of children living and working on the street. The term ‘Street Children’ is used to describe either children who live and work on the streets, or those who spend a a lot of time on the street but sleep away from public spaces (2).

Poverty is a main cause of children having to live on the street. Other causes include the death of family members, neglect or violence. Poverty is also a main cause of disability, where the cost of healthcare prevents many people from being able to access vital services (3). Disability can increase the probability of being in poverty, as it prevents many from being able to work. In addition, many children receive poorer education as a result of disability. To clarify, disability and poverty are closely linked, as both impact on the lives of street children. Disability in street children adds an additional hardship. For example, street children living with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence and typically have poorer health (2).

Furthermore, disabled street children are often ignored and they try to remain hidden as a result of the high levels of discrimination they experience (2). Work in Sierra Leone by Street Child has shown that discrimination is one of the biggest factors contributing to poor education for children living with disabilities (4).

In addition, the current Coronavirus pandemic has also had a large impact on street children living with disabilities (5). This has made it harder for them to access food or help. Currently, there is a need to remotely support children with disabilities due to Coronavirus.

Causes of disability in street children

There are a large number of factors which can cause disability in children (1). However, many of these have been tackled in higher income countries. Yet, many preventable diseases are continuing to cause disability in children of low-income settings (1). For example, disability may be caused by infectious diseases, infections by parasites and  diseases not directly spread from person to person (1). In addition, in poor regions and street children especially, factors such as malnutrition, maternal and perinatal disease and social unrest are also common causes (3).

Types of disability

A person with a disability has a long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment (6). Research from Street Child suggests that more street children have intellectual disabilities than physical ones. For example, this may include learning and social impairments. Subsequently, this can affect their education (7).

Figure describing both the social and medical models of disability. The diagram reads that the social model includes the impact of discrimination which can lead to poorer job prospects. In contrast, the medical model more closely describes the lack of physical ability and that the disability is the problem, not that of society.

The Medical and Social Models of Disability (6)

Models of disability

The social model of disability highlights the discrimination a person may face due to their disability (6). This stigma has existed for a long time, and remains an issue around the world. To add further, there is often a view that disability is the ‘fault’ of the person. Instead, society needs to be fully inclusive of people living with disability (8). In comparison, the medical model of disability more directly focuses on changes to the physical or mental abilities of a person (6).

Discrimination in disabled children

Children living with disability experience stigma and discrimination, on top of the difficulties caused by the disability itself (9). Discrimination is described by UNICEF as ‘any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability’ (6). This causes many children to feel isolated and helpless (9).

Discrimination in education

Disability often prevents children from fully taking part in their community. As a result, this causes many to feel like outsiders within their own communities (8). For example, it is common for children with disabilities to be separated in classrooms. Some teachers will refuse to teach children with disabilities alongside other children (8). This continues to make those with disabilities believe there is something wrong with them. Furthermore, it also suggests to able-bodied children that the two groups need to be separated. This results in poorer education for disabled children. Many children begin to feel this stigma towards themselves, which results in them not wanting to seek help or access to health services. This further adds to the struggle of living with disability as a child. Furthermore, they have been left behind in the global attempt to improve education for street children as a whole (10).

Gender-based discrimination

Gender-based discrimination is also experienced by girls living with disabilities. Consequently, they overall receive less education and less career training than boys with disabilities and able-bodied girls of the same age (11). This exclusion is commonly as a result of them being invisible. Therefore, it is important that we work to include disabled girls within and out-with disabled communities (11).

Developments to disability in street children

Many organisations are working to improve the health and lives of children living in low income countries (1). In particular, programmes are working to improve the outcomes of disability in street children. For example, community-based programmes are being used to emphasise the importance of good health care for disabled children. The introduction of such programmes has helped improve childhood access to healthcare in Tanzania. This is a country currently struggling with high rates or childhood disability (1).

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 hope to make education more inclusive and more accessible to all children (10). However, there is a lack of research on the education of disabled children, particularly in those living on the streets (9). This is due to a lack of funding. As a result, this limits the improvements which can be made to the education of disabled street children. One way to solve this is through fundraising campaigns. These campaigns are increasing awareness and therefore support for projects. Subsequently, this increase in funding is helping to meet the needs of every child living with disability.

In addition, there is a mindset that we need to ‘fix’ children living with disabilities. This implies that something is wrong with them. Instead, it is better if we work to remove the stigma the children face. This would result in children being free to succeed no matter their impairment (8). For instance, UNICEF’s ‘Its about ability’ campaign is aimed at changing community perception of disability, which is helping to improve the acceptance and inclusion of disabled children (8).

Coronavirus

Sadly, the global pandemic had a negative impact on much of the progress being made. However, organisations such as Chance For Childhood have done great work to meet the needs of disabled street children through outreach teams during this difficult time. The result: much improved support of street children in Kenya and Ghana (5).

Overall, these programmes can collectively help us to improve disability in street children.

 


References

  1. Cameron D, Nixon S, Parnes P, Pidsadny M. Children with disabilities in low-income countries. Paediatrics & Child Health [Internet]. 2005 [cited 25 April 2021];10(5):269-272. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2722543/
  2. org. The Facts about Street Children | Consortium for Street Children [Internet]. Consortium for Street Children. 2019 [cited 5 May 2021]. Available from: https://www.streetchildren.org/about-street-children/
  3. Simkiss D, Blackburn C, Mukoro F, Read J, Spencer N. Childhood disability and socio-economic circumstances in low and middle income countries: systematic review. BMC Pediatrics [Internet]. 2011 [cited 25 April 2021];11(1). Available from: https://bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2431-11-119
  4. Weimert F. Discrimination is the biggest obstacle to education for children with disabilities — Street Child Switzerland [Internet]. Street Child Switzerland. 2018 [cited 5 May 2021]. Available from: https://www.street-child.ch/news/discrimination-education-children-with-disabilities
  5. Chance For Childhood. How we’re supporting vulnerable children during Coronavirus | Chance for Childhood – Children’s charity [Internet]. Chance for Childhood. 2020 [cited 5 May 2021]. Available from: https://chanceforchildhood.org/latest-news/how-were-supporting-vulnerable-children-during-coronavirus/
  6. Desk Review for Developing Measures on Discriminatory Attitudes and Social Norms towards Children with Disabilities in Europe and Central Asia region [Internet]. Dornsfife: UNICEF; 2018. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/media/13391/file
  7. Kamara J. A Study on the Barriers to Education for Children with Disabilities in Sierra Leone [Internet]. Chicago: Street Child; 2018. Available from: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5620ddc4e4b04789570e5fca/t/5b570243aa4a997ca1cf356b/1532428909558/A%2BStudy%2Bon%2Bthe%2B%2BBarriers%2Bto%2BEducation%2Bfor%2BChildren%2Bwith%2BDisabilities%2Bin%2BSierra%2BLeone%2B.pdf
  8. Children with disabilities [Internet]. Unicef.org. 2021 [cited 25 April 2021]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/children-disabilities
  9. Maulik P, Darmstadt G. Childhood Disability in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Overview of Screening, Prevention, Services, Legislation, and Epidemiology. PEDIATRICS [Internet]. 2007 [cited 25 April 2021];120(Supplement):S1-S55. Available from: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/120/Supplement_1/S1.full.pdf
  10. The World Bank. Education: Children with disabilities are being left behind, says World Bank/GPE report [Internet]. 2017. Available from: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2017/12/01/children-with-disabilities-are-being-left-behind
  11. The State of the World’s Children 2013 [Internet]. Unicef.org. 2013 [cited 25 April 2021]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/reports/state-worlds-children-2013

 

What is Poverty?

Indian child in poverty looking through barbed wire

Poverty is a global issue that affects many people. Across the world there is thought to be 734 million people who live on less that $1.90 a day1 (according to studies in 2015).

Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a person’s basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of participation in decision making. Pre-pandemic, around 10% of the world population were living in extreme poverty and struggling to fulfil basic needs2, such as health, education and access to water and sanitation. It is a complex issue that may include social, economic, political and geographical elements. There is no single best measure of poverty, it does not mean the same thing for everyone.

In 2015, the United Nations Member States all agreed upon 17 Sustainable Development Goals to protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere.

As part of the 15-year plan, the first goal is to end poverty3. The Sustainable Development Goals main reference to ending poverty is in target 1.A: “Ensure significant mobilisation of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions.” Many charities, including Poverty Child, are working on this common goal. However, this is a large task and figures show that currently, we will not reach that target. The aftermath of the pandemic threatens to push a further 70 million people into extreme poverty4.

How do you measure poverty?

There is not one distinguished measure of poverty, it is a complex issue that has many dependents. Poverty can mean something different to a lot of people. The UK measures poverty in different ways, two commonly used measures5 are:

  • People in relative low income (living in households with income below 60% of the median that year).
  • People in absolute low income (living in households with income below 60% of (inflation-adjusted) median income in the same base year – usually 2010/11).

Absolute low income looks at whether living standards at the bottom of the distribution are improving over time. Income can be measured before or after housing costs are deducted (BHC or AHC). Poverty levels tend to be higher after housing costs as poorer households tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on housing.

According to a House of Commons Library report, 11 million people were living in relative low income BHC (UK) in 2018/19. This was 17% of the population. Of that, 2.8 million children were living in poverty6. Another measurement is destitution, this is where someone is not able to afford basics such as shelter, heating and clothing and is the lowest level of poverty.

What causes poverty?

There are many causes of poverty, these can vary across the world. Some of the major causes in the UK include:

  • Low pay.
    72% of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work7. However, the long-term effects of being in the lowest paid 20% of the UK labour market has been a major cause of enduring poverty in the UK. Often in the case of low paid jobs, there are not opportunities for promotion and the hours are unpredictable.
  • Worklessness.
    Since 2006, there has been a 60% rise in the number of people moving repeatedly between work and unemployment8.
    68% of children in families with no working adults are in poverty9. Often people want to work but they are not able to due to different barriers to work. This is heightened during the pandemic when many businesses are having to close and subsequently workers are being let go.
  • Inadequate benefits.
    Currently, in-work benefits are not sufficient to overcome labour market challenges and keep people out of poverty. Not only that but housing and childcare costs are constantly increasing, this increases families risks of poverty. The social security system should provide a safety net to prevent people falling into poverty – this is not the case for most.

There are many other causes for poverty, such as discrimination, abuse and trauma, and weak relationships. These causes could be a consequence of a random life event or moment, that then catches people in a trap and keeps them in a cycle that they cannot escape. This could simply be getting sick and not being able to work for a while.

The effects of poverty can be severe. They can lead to homelessness, health issues, family issues, drug or alcohol abuse and lower educational achievement, to name a few. It has a huge impact on the community and those surrounding it. Poverty affects more than one in four children in the UK today. Children who grow up in poverty miss out on what many of us take for granted, clothing, three meals a day, even a school trip. It is often found that students who are in poverty are less likely to be successful at school and then earn less as adults. This cycle is vicious but not inevitable. If we work together, it will be possible to have a stronger economy and a fairer society that will help everyone.

What does Poverty Child do?

Poverty Child is part of that movement to help the children who are living in poverty10. We are a charity that is dedicated to improving the life for street and slum connected children. Our mission is to empower them to achieve their true potential. Anyone could fall on hard times and find it difficult to make ends meet. It is important to be there to help everyone when they do.

Some of the work that we offer includes:

  • Mobile clinics.
    These provide basic healthcare to children in poorer areas.
  • Street schools
    A cordoned street that becomes a classroom for learning basic literacy and numeracy.
  • Day Centres
    A safe place for children to get a meal, wash, counselling and basic schooling.
  • Night Centres
    A safe place for a child to sleep at night.

This work is currently focused abroad.

Please look through our blog to see more information on ways you can help our charity. This can include donating directly or volunteering. It is also possible to recycle coins and currency, mobile phones, cameras and other gadgets, old jewellery, stamps and ink cartridges. Please visit our homepage for more information.

 

Bibliography

1,2,4

Nations, U., 2021. Ending Poverty | United Nations. [online] United Nations. Available at: <https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/ending-poverty> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

3

Nations, U., 2021. Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. [online] United Nations Sustainable Development. Available at: <https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

5, 6

Francis-Devine, B., 2021. Poverty in the UK: Statistics. [online] Commons Library. Available at: <https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn07096/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

7,8,9

CPAG. 2021. Child Poverty. [online] Available at: <https://cpag.org.uk/child-poverty> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

10

Poverty Child. 2021. Poverty Child – empowering street and slum connected children. [online] Available at: <https://povertychild.org> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Additional Resources:

JRF. 2021. What is poverty?. [online] Available at: <https://www.jrf.org.uk/our-work/what-is-poverty> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

United Nations Sustainable Development. 2021. Take Action for the Sustainable Development Goals. [online] Available at: <https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

 

 

How Your Recycling Helps Poverty Child

Poverty Child prides itself on the fact that 95% of your donations is used to further our mission. We are always grateful for and humbled by your generosity- you help to transform our projects from ideas into lifelines for impoverished children. We want you to know how your recycling helps our cause.

Your recycling helps give flexibility.

The funds that are generated from your recycled goods are unrestricted income. This means funds are pooled to become available for where the most need is.  The needs of the children we help change over time. So it gives us the flexibility to invest the funds in response to their changing needs, either by adapting our existing projects or creating new ones if necessary.  As well as this, it allows us to make up for any shortfalls of funds that we have. For example, we used recycling income to make up for a funding shortfall in our project with Fairplay For All Foundation. It was your recycling efforts that allowed the project to then reach its full potential.

Your recycling helps to fund vital research.

It is different to secure funding for research and data collection. Donors appear to be more willing to provide tangible aid such as food and clothing. Yet, the research and the data for our projects is just as vital. Without this research, it would be hard to know what the children need and how they can be helped. Our research is the foundation of our projects, enabling us to build relationships with the children that we find in the developing world. The funds from the recycling initiative contributes to this data collection. It helps us to build our projects based on crucial data. It is an extremely important starting point for many of our projects.

It’s a vital part of our fundraising strategy.

The income generated by recycling is relatively small, but that doesn’t mean to say it isn’t important. The programme allows us to diversify our income and therefore protect our projects, to some extent, against any drops in revenue. During times of economic and/or political uncertainty, people are more cautious about how and where they spend their earnings. As a result, donating to charity is often dropped from household budgets. Your recycling helps us protect our projects from fluctuating income in uncertain times.

Most importantly, your recycling helps slum and street children.

Aside from our different projects, our wider mission is to break the cycle of poverty for many children in the developing world. Whether your donations are funding our research, data collection, or tangible aid, they are contributing to this mission. Your time and efforts are helping us to make a real difference in the world. By getting involved with our initiative, your recycling is successfully changing lives.  Click the link to find out more about our work and our projects in developing countries.

5 Simple Steps For Decluttering Using KonMari

konmari method steps for decluttering and recycling

Whether it’s time for a spring clean, you’re moving house, or there’s too much clutter in your home, decluttering is always worthwhile. There’s nothing like a clutter-free home to leave you feeling organised and cleansed. It seems that decluttering has recently become quite the phenomenon. With Marie Kondo’s growing fame, more people than ever seem enthusiastic about decluttering. If your house is in need of a declutter, we can help. Consider this “Poverty Child meets KonMari”. Below are 5 simple steps for decluttering your home. These are based on the guidance of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method for tidying. Once you have established which items you no longer want to keep, you can recycle them with us. Creating a tidy and organised space has never been so simple.

Commit yourself to the task of decluttering

This is Marie Kondo’s first rule of decluttering. Before starting what can seem like the tedious task of tidying, get yourself into a positive mindset. Remind yourself of your motivation for decluttering. As the KonMari method emphasises, imagine your ideal lifestyle. Let this guide you. A decluttered home will bring you better organisation, increased productivity and less stress. If you’re using the KonMari method for the first time, keep reminding yourself that it will be interesting and inspiring to try something new. Remember that all the goods you decide to get rid of will be recycled with us. This will help to fund our projects in developing countries. You’ll have played a part in helping vulnerable children that are subject to a life in slums and on the streets.

Tidy by category, not by location

Part of the KonMari method is that you tidy according to the category of your items, not by their location. Don’t tidy by room, tidy by category. One of Marie Kondo’s rules is that you stick to the order. You start with clothes, then books, and then move on to papers, miscellaneous items and sentimental items. Gather your items into these categories before sorting through them.

Ask yourself, “does this item bring me joy?”

One of Marie Kondo’s main principles for the KonMari method is that you focus on what brings you joy. You should think about what you can keep instead of what you can discard. Once you have your categories sorted, go through each item and ask “does this item bring me any joy?” If your answer is yes, put the item into a pile of things to keep. If it no longer sparks joy, put the item in a pile of belongings to send to our recycling initiative. You can check out all the items we can accept under the “donate” tab on our website. We are happy to accept broken items, so don’t worry if things aren’t working as they should be.

Contact us for postage materials

If your stuff weighs 10kg or more altogether, you can request a recycling sack from us. Alternatively, if your items weigh less than this, you can ask us for an address label. We’ll email this out to you for posting your unwanted goods to us.

Send your unwanted goods to us

After all the hard work and commitment that has gone into your decluttering, it’s time to get rid of your unwanted items! If you’ve used the address label, you’ll post them out to us. If you’ve used the recycling sacks from us, we can arrange for a courier to collect the items you are kindly donating. All this information is available on our website.

Once you’ve decluttered your home, be proud of the effort you have put into creating a more organised space. You’ll soon begin to feel the benefits of having an organised and decluttered home to live in. Remember, this process isn’t just helping you and anybody else that shares your home. You’re helping us to fund our projects. These projects aim to break the vicious cycle of poverty street children are trapped in. Your donated items will help us to make a real difference.

Ideas For Phase 3 Of National Citizen Service (NCS)

NCS phase 3 teamwork for community project

You’ve conquered the activities your five-day NCS residential had thrown your way. You’ve mastered several life skills in phase 2. Now, you’re looking for a way to make an impact in your community. Phase 3 is all about making a difference. By using our recycling initiative as your social project, you’ll be doing nothing short of that. You will be helping your local community to declutter and come together for a common cause. But, your impact will reach even further than your local community. You will be helping to tackle the vicious poverty cycle that many vulnerable children are in. With the skills you’ve gained and our support, your community project will make a real difference.

About Our Initiative

Our recycling initiative is a unique and creative way to improve the lives of slum and street children. The items that we collect are resold for cash to fund our projects. We work to give poor children opportunities to better their lives and break the cycle of poverty. We accept many items from clothes, jewellery, unwanted gadgets and even old cars! There’s more information on the items we can collect under the “donate” tab on our website.

Some Ideas For Your Social Project

Organise a recycling event in your local community

This could be item specific or to recycle many items. For example, you could collect old mobile phones within your local community. Or, you could ask for people to bring any recyclable goods to a specific collection point. Make sure you promote your event with leaflets and posters. Tell your community what they can recycle and where they need to take their goods to. There’s more information on our website about each specific item and the conditions they must be in.

Work with local businesses to recycle items

Local businesses are always disposing of items, such as ink cartridges and laptops. These might not be of any value to the business anymore, but they are to our recycling initiative. Contact local businesses and encourage them to recycle their goods for your community project. It’s also a great way to impress employers with your effort and project management!

Get creative!

You could rally a team together and head down to your local city centre to encourage people to recycle with you. To draw attention to your project, you could get creative and dress up as a recycling item, such as a mobile phone!

Get competitive!

You could also run a competition within your community to see who can recycle the most. It could be on large competition between individuals. Or, you could run competitions between households, estates, and businesses that take part!

We’ll support your social project

Here at Poverty Child we have valuable experience in running fundraising projects. We can offer our guidance to help you execute yours. We can provide materials you need such as collection boxes and posters if necessary. We’ll also be on hand to help with the collection of your donations. You can request a recycling sack from us if you expect your donations to weigh over 10kg altogether. We’ll then arrange to collect your donations from you, free of charge.

If you’re thinking of using our recycling initiative for your NCS community project, we’d love to hear from you. Be sure to get in touch to tell us about your project, and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.

How to Recycle Gold & Silver Jewellery

Recycling gold, silver and jewellery

We all have gold and silver jewellery hidden away in cupboards, drawers, and boxes that is no longer used. Whether it’s broken or out of fashion, at one time it meant something to us and for that reason it’s hard to part with. Yet, there is still a way of putting your unwanted jewellery to use without the guilt of letting it go. Donating it to Poverty Child.

Our jewellery recycling initiative can give your old jewellery purpose once more. It can raise funds to support our work with vulnerable children living on the streets or in slums. Every gold or silver ring, trinket, or earring can make a difference, no matter how small. A little can indeed go a long way in changing someone’s life.

For example, our recent work in Philippines is only possible thanks to your recycling. Your unwanted items are helping to improve the nutrition of children in the slum of Payatas. Some of the most at-risk children. Learn more about our work with Fairplay, and why working with street children is so important.

Recycling with us couldn’t be easier. We accept all jewellery in any condition, whether silver, gold or bejewelled. All you have to do is request a postage label. Then, use the address label to post your jewellery to us. Our recycling partner raises funds with your donated jewellery. Funds that we use to further our charitable mission.

You can even get your family, friends and work colleagues involved. The more recycling you do the more children we can help.

If you’re having a clear out or a spring clean, send your unwanted gold and silver jewellery to us. Your decluttering can make a huge difference to the children we work with. Children who are otherwise ignored by the wider society.

How To Recycle Ink Cartridges

Ink Jet Cartridges

Despite over 65 million ink cartridges sold in the UK every year, only around 15% of these get recycled. Cartridges ending up in landfill contribute further to pollution and global warming. In turn this drives up demand for the mining of raw materials to make new cartridges.

The planet needs us to step up and break this cycle, and this is where you come in. You can help by disposing of your ink cartridges in a better way. Recycle your printer’s ink cartridges instead of chucking them in the bin. This is so much better for the planet as it means less mining for materials and less pollution.

Here’s the thing though. If you recycle your ink cartridges through us, you get an added benefit. You help us further our mission helping improve the lives of street and slum children. All you have to do is send us your ink. Each cartridge you send us raises £1. Every pound raised is a step further in making life better for some of the most vulnerable children.

Sending us your ink cartridges costs you nothing. That’s right, we’ll send you a mailbag for you to pop your cartridges into and post back to us for free. Super convenient for you, helpful to the environment, and benefitting charity. A triple win.

We accept ink cartridges from most printer manufacturers like Canon, Epsom, and HP. See a full list of the cartridges we can accept by printer manufacturer on our ink cartridges page.

Make life a little easier for yourself and better for the most vulnerable, as well as for the planet. Send us your ink cartridges today.

How To Recycle Your Car

Recycling old cars

Britain is facing a landfill crisis – we’re running out of landfill and with Brexit looming over us, it seems things may only get worse. It now seems more vital than ever to do our bit and help the environment, particularly by recycling.

It is this, coupled with our mission to provide street and slum children abroad with opportunities to better their future, that has driven us to create our recycling fundraising initiative. As a part of this initiative to help fund our projects, we are happy to accept your old cars and light vans that need disposing. It won’t cost you a penny to recycle with us and, besides the environmental benefits of recycling, it’ll help to keep our work alive. That’s right – your unwanted vehicle can help slum and street children in the developing world to reach their full potential.

The vehicle you’re recycling can be in any condition, but please note that if your car is working, it will potentially fetch a higher value. All we ask if that you have settled any finance before you donate your vehicle to us, and that any scrap or used vehicles have inflated tyres and are parked on solid ground to ensure it can be safely placed onto a recovery vehicle upon collection.

All you have to do is complete a form with your details, and then our recycling partner will be in touch to arrange a collection time. Please let us know when you are contacted whether or not your car is in working condition, has any missing parts, any damage that affects it, and whether your car is accessible as this may affect its collection. You can click here to view the form you must complete as well as FAQs.

Recycling your vehicle is easy and convenient for you and by doing so, you can help provide youngsters with opportunities to better the life they were born into and reach their full potential in the world. The environmental benefits in themselves are a reason to recycle, but the feeling of doing your bit to help others in the developing world is a bonus.

Street Children: Everything About This Global Humanitarian Crisis

Street Children in Cambodia

Across the world there are millions of children who face the reality of spending their everyday life living or working on the streets. The quality of life of these children is poor, as they are exposed violence, deprived living conditions and a lack of access to basic necessities, healthcare and education. The numbers of street children around the world are also likely to be rising, especially in developing countries where rapid urbanisation has led to the creation of urban slums in which children often experience extreme poverty.

A global crisis is rapidly unfolding and yet the international community continues to largely ignore children connected to the street. As a result, the need to alleviate the problems causing children to become involved with the street as well as support and protect those already living in these conditions is ever more vital.

Here we introduce the crisis, with four main sections:

  1. Who are street children?
  2. What causes children live and work on the street?
  3. Life on the street
  4. How do street children process into adulthood and what are the long-term effects of street involvement?

Who are street children?

Who does the term ‘street children’ refer to?

Street children are a group of children with diverse characteristics and have very complex lives. Because of this, definitions of the term ‘street child’ are often disputed and vary significantly between policy makers, researchers, NGOs and other social actors.  Earlier work on street children tended to focus on just those living (sleeping) and/or working on the streets (1). More recently the term has also come to include those who spend a significant amount of time on the streets (2), whether that be hanging out with friends, accompanying their parents working on the street or for any other reason.

Generally speaking we can say that street children are children who, for whatever reason, depend on the streets for their survival. The street is a central reference point for them, plays a significant role in their everyday life and forms a vital part of their identity (3).

How many street children are there and where do they live?

Latest figures on the number of street children living globally emerged more than a decade ago, published by the international children’s charity, Unicef. In 2005, the organisation predicted that there are more than 100 million street children around the world (2). This is just an estimate, however, and many other agencies working with street children have doubted the accuracy of the claim (1).

Finding a more accurate and up-to-date figure for the number of street children globally is difficult due to the challenges which come along with counting these children: street children tend to move around a lot, they may also not want to be found or are scared and mistrustful of authorities (2). Since definitions of the term ‘street child’ and methods used for counting vary significantly between organisations, it can also prove unreliable to compare and compile data collected in different cities or regions (3)(4)(5).

While the true number of street children living globally is disputed, many researchers and NGOs agree that their numbers are rising. This is occurring alongside the world’s growing population and due to certain global trends, such as rapid urbanisation, increasing inequalities and migration (3). Although it is often thought that street children only live in the poorer nations of Asia, Africa and South America, they are found all over the world, including in richer countries and regions (2).

Street children have diverse characteristics and experiences 

As mentioned above, street children are not a clearly defined, consistent group (5). Their characteristics are diverse, coming from a range of different backgrounds, ethnicity and ages (3).

Stereotypically street children are often thought of as boys and it is true that studies in many locations have counted more boys on the street than girls (2)(5). This is likely due to the more traditional gender roles at play in many cultures, which encourage boys to be independent, work and socialise outside of the home, while girls stay indoors (5). Girls are also often less visible on the street, keeping out of sight to protect themselves from the dangers of street living or being more likely to work as domestic servants or involved in commercial sex (5)(6).

As a result of their varying identities and locations in which they live, street children will have different experiences, needs and struggles and will use the street in diverse ways (5)(7).

What causes children to live or work on the street?

Push and pull factors

Broadly speaking we can put the presence of children living, working or spending large amounts of time on the street down to a range of so called ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors. Push factors are aspects which force children on to the street (3). These could be reasons such as family collapse, death, economic difficulties, domestic violence, abuse or neglect (8)(10). Pull factors, meanwhile, are circumstances which make the street attractive to a child, for example friendships or the sense of independence, freedom and adventure (3)(2).

In many cases, the process of a child becoming involved in the street is not the result of a single one of these factors, but rather a combination of reasons which have left them in an extremely vulnerable position and meant that the street has become their best or only option for survival (2)(5).

The society in which a child lives also has a huge influence on their likelihood of taking to the streets. In many countries there are wider societal problems at play which make life challenging for children and intensify the conditions which make street involvement more likely.

Broader societal problems

Poverty and income inequality: In societies where income inequality is high, children from the poorest families can be forced onto the street as a means of economic survival for themselves or their families (4)(10). Once there, they are likely to take part in income-generating activities, such as begging, street trading, collecting raw materials, or more dangerous practices, such as stealing or commercial sex work (6)(9)(10).

Financial instability not only puts a strain on families economically, but also emotionally (10). Research has found that stress associated with economic hardship can cause a weakening of relationships between family members (10)(4). This can lead to more conflicts within the family and increased incidences of domestic violence, abuse and neglect, all of which can contribute to a child leaving home (4).

Inadequate social protection for vulnerable children: Many children experiencing hardships and violations of their basic rights at home are reliant on government social services or support from NGOs to provide them with care and protection. In situations where these provisions are unavailable, not accessible or inadequate to meet their needs, children are left vulnerable and exposed to many forms of abuse (3)(11). These children may take to the streets as a means of protecting themselves from the dangers they face at home, after being left with no feasible alternative (1).

Wars, conflicts, epidemics and disasters: Numbers of street children often increase during times of crisis, such as wars, health epidemics, natural disasters, famine and economic recessions. While the consequences of such events are varied, they typically result in death, displacement and disruption of the normal running of services. All of these factors lead to a deepening of poverty and can leave children without care and protection stopping them from becoming involved in the street (5). Recent examples of crises that have had a damaging impact on children include:

  • The 2014 Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone to which over 12,000 children lost their primary care giver (12).
  • The war and refugee crisis in Iraq which forced more than 12.3 million children from their homes (13).
  • The HIV/AIDS pandemic which has left an estimated 16.6 million children as orphans, 90% of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa (5).

Patterns of urbanisation: Over the last fifty years, movement from rural to urban areas has increased significantly. Currently the highest levels of rural to urban migration are taking place in Asia and Africa, where rapid urbanisation has led to the creation of large unplanned, informal settlements and urban slums (5). Physical conditions in these areas are poor and the settlements are often characterised by poverty, limited resources, little access to social provisions and large family populations per household (3)(5). Children living in these slums are at risk of being forced onto the streets to earn a living or survive, given their poor economic background, little education and limited means for securing their basic needs (11).

Discrimination against certain groups: Studies in many locations have found higher percentages of children from ethnic minorities on the streets than those from native backgrounds. This is the case in South Eastern Europe where children from Roma backgrounds represent a large proportion of children on the street, as high as 89 percent in Serbia and 67 percent in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In these countries, Roma families face many challenges in their everyday lives, including extreme poverty, unemployment, little access to services, as well as prejudice, discrimination and intolerance, which are likely to be the reasons behind this trend (10).

Discrimination not only affects ethnic minorities but also other marginalised groups. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the HIV pandemic has led to an extreme form of discrimination targeted at AIDS orphans. These children are frequently accused of witchcraft, shunned by their extended families and left with no option but to struggle on the streets to survive (5).

Life on the street

Challenges faced by street children

For the many children who have moved onto the street to live or work, life is extremely challenging. On the streets they are subjected to poor physical conditions and have little access to basic necessities, such as food, clothing and shelter (10). They are also likely to find it difficult to access relevant social services, such as healthcare, either because they do not have the documents required for using such services, lack information or are discriminated against by service providers (3).

Low school attendance is common among children in street situations too. Many street children struggle to stay in standard education because of the attendance requirements, routine and discipline of school, especially when having to juggle work on the street alongside. In addition, street children often experience discrimination from other pupils and teachers, have little family support to help them with schoolwork and find the topics taught irrelevant to their everyday lives, meaning that they do not enjoy school (2)(10)(11).

Violence becomes a part of everyday life

Another major difficulty of life on the street is the constant threat of violence. While the street can be a place for friendships, violence between street children is also common. A study looking at children living alone on the streets in Kenya and Tanzania found that incidences of violence took place as a result of stealing, conflicts over owing money and securing places to stay. A lot of this behaviour was directed at younger children, who not only experienced physical abuse, but also sexual abuse at the hands of older street youths. Many of these older children had been raped themselves when they were younger and used sexual abuse as a means of expressing power and anger over their younger peers (4).

In addition to violence from other street inhabitants, street children are vulnerable to experiencing abuse from the police, local business owners and other members of the public (3)(5). Police brutality against street children has been witnessed in many locations worldwide. In Kenya, for example, there has been extensive reporting of the maltreatment of street youths by the country’s authorities which has sometimes led to bodily harm and even death (14).

Forced sex-selling and begging is also common on the streets, leaving children at risk of abuse and exploitation from the adult organisers of this work. Sex work is particularly prevalent among girls: a study in Tanzania found that 79 percent of girls counted on the street at night were involved in commercial sex work, rising to 86 percent of the 15 to 18 year old girls counted (9).

Crime as a means of survival and coping mechanism

Street children are often viewed negatively by officials and others in the community. They are seen as a problem and associated with crimes, such as stealing, loitering, sleeping in prohibited places, selling goods illegally, as well as using drugs and alcohol (2).

Stereotypes of street children as ‘criminals’ and ‘delinquents’ fail to understand the complex lives that these children lead (1)(3). In many incidences, street children only resort to illegal work practices or crimes like stealing after being left with no other alternative to earn a living or for survival (2)(4). They can also be forced into it by adults and other children who are exploiting them. Drugs and alcohol, on the other hand, are often used as a coping mechanism by street children, thought to offer a relief from the harsh realities of their everyday lives (1)(4).

How do street children process into adulthood and what are the long-term effects of street involvement?

Pathways in adulthood

Research has shown that children’s lives can develop in numerous directions once being involved with the street (4). Some of these pathways are more negative, as former street children are more likely to take part in organised crime and end up in the penal system. In Brazil it is thought that over a third of street children have been placed inside young offender institutions (13).

Some of the pathways which street children take into adulthood are more positive. They can find routes into housing, off-street work or education (1). In many cases, children require interventions from the government, NGOs or other support networks to help with the transition into off-street life and overcome barriers, such as costs, lack of documentation, fear and discrimination (1)(4)(5). With this support not available for every child, it is the case that many children remain street dwellers into late adulthood (1).

Worryingly, several studies have also indicated that there is a high mortality rate among street children. Incidences of death among street youth can be linked to a number of factors, including their exposure to violence, high rates of substance use, mental health problems and susceptibility to illness and diseases like HIV, combined with their lower uptake of health care (1)(14). The nature of street work is often dangerous, meaning that street children are also prone to accidents, such as when begging close to traffic in busy cities (10).

Long-term effects of street involvement

The experiences which street children face in the early stages of lives can have a range of impacts on their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. All of these factors have consequences on a child’s long-term health and personal development through adolescence and into adulthood.

Mental and emotional impacts: Violence is one of the biggest dangers of street life, affecting children not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Research suggests that incidences of abuse can severely affect children’s ability to trust and form attachments and, thereby, make it difficult to form appropriate and meaningful relationships in the future (3)(4). The violence experienced by street children can also result in trauma and emotional distress, which if not addressed can cause psychological damage and mental health problems, such depression, post-traumatic stress and anxiety (4).

High levels of substance use, which is common among street children, has also been proven to have a negative effect on mental health (1)(3)(4).

Physical impacts: The physical conditions which street children are subjected to are poor. They often work and sleep in areas which are dirty, polluted and exposed to harsh weather. These environments pose a major risk to children’s health, as chest problems are likely and infectious diseases like malaria and cholera spread easily. Since many street children lack food or have a poor diet, it is also common for them to experience shunted growth and appear physically much younger than their actual age (4). Being deprived of nutrition negatively affects a child’s activity and motivation levels too, which are important for their cognitive development (10).  

Given the lack of medical care accessible to children on the street, those suffering from health problems or injuries from accidents and assaults frequently do not get the treatment they need (4)(10). This can increase the severity of the issue in the long term and even have fatal consequences.

To conclude…

With millions of children living and working on the streets around the world and evidence to suggest these numbers are rising, it is clear that the global humanitarian crisis of street children needs to be tackled. Before coming to the streets, these children have already lived in deprived conditions, often experiencing extreme poverty, family collapse, death, abuse or neglect at home, meaning that the street has become their best or only option for survival. On the streets they face more dangers, including high rates of violence, poor physical conditions and a lack of access to healthcare, education and basic necessities, like food, clothing and shelter.

Without proper support street children may struggle to adapt to life off the street and pursue negative pathways into adulthood, such as becoming involved in organised crime and ending up in the penal system. If their issues are not addressed, they are also likely to experience long-term impacts on their mental and physical health, and even face higher risks of death. As this is the case, the support from charities and NGOs is vital in helping alleviate the problems of street children and providing them with the care and protection they need.

Sources used in this article:

  1. Benitez S (2011) State of the World’s Street Children: Research. Consortium for Street Children.
  2. Consortium for Street Children (2015) Street-Connected Children Myth Busters: Challenge Your Perceptions.
  3. OHCHR, United Nations Children’s Fund, Consortium for Street Children and Aviva (2013) Protection and promotion of the rights of children working and/or living on the street.
  4. Smeaton, E (2012) Struggling to Survive: Children Living Alone on the Streets in Tanzania and Kenya. Railway Children.
  5. Ray P, Davey C and Nolan P (2011) Still on The Streets – Still Short of Rights: Analysis of policy and programmes related to street involved children. Plan and Consortium for Street Children
  6. Railway Children (2016) Children on the streets of Kitale: Headcount findings 2015.
  7. Consortium for Street Children (2015) Advocacy and Action Guide: Making rights a reality for street-connected children.
  8. Comic Relief (2009-12) Street and Working Children & Young People’s Programme (SWC&YP) Strategy 2009-12.
  9. Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and USAID Kizazi Kipya Project (2018) Street-Connected Children in Tanzania: Headcount Findings 2017.
  10. Duci V and Tahsini I (2016) Regional research on prevalence of street children phenomenon in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. Save The Children.
  11. Guga E S (2010) Final Evaluation of Building the Capacity of Local CBOs and Government Agencies to Improve the Lives of Migrant Children Project. FTF/ICT/ CSC, Dar es Salaam.
  12. Street Child (2015) The Street Child Ebola Orphan Report.
  13. Consortium for Street Children (2016) Street Children: A Global Picture (Infographic/Map).
  14. Embleton L, Ayuku D, Makori D, Kamanda A and Braitstein P (2018) Causes of death among street-connected children and youth in Eldoret, Kenya. BMC International Health and Human Rights, 18 (19).