Sunday, November 12, 2006

Street Children

SPANDANA - Come lets make a difference to the lives of Street Children

This is a small effort to make difference to lives of street children who live on the edge of this society - abandoned by parents/relatives, abused, traumatised who are trying to accept reality of life.

Facts about street children

  • There are more than 100 million street and working children in India.
  • They are eking out a grim existence in India's towns and cities.
  • Children as young as six have to resort to car washing, begging, carrying luggage, fetching tea or working in small industries to support themselves ... and sometimes their families.
  • More than 20% of India‚Äôs Gross National Product is produced by children.
  • Girls as young as eight are forced into prostitution in order to survive.

Who are street children?

  • who have only intermittent contact with parents or family (usually mother or sisters) but live most of the time with other children in the city streets, or are on the move. {There are numerous reasons for a child to leave home}
  • who have been literally abandoned by their parents/relatives, found themselves on the street from the beginning because of family problems, or have chosen to leave home due to some kind of constant abuse.

Those who have run away from home can be separated into two categories:

- Those who have an unpleasant or traumatic home environment, including child abuse.
- Those that experience family problems they are unable to solve: i.e., alcoholism, child abuse, ill treatment by stepparents, HIV/AIDS, unemployment and poverty. Their tolerance level has been far exceeded, leading to the drastic decision to leave their family and home to become street children.

Religion of street children in India varies greatly according to area, but, in general, approximately 70% are Hindu, 18% are Muslim, Christian and other. Percentage of Hindu children is as high as 82% in Hyderabad, Indore & Bangalore. (Almost 50% of Hindu children belong to scheduled caste or tribes.) 82.7% of street children are boys. Girls are more difficult to trace but they are, by far, the most vulnerable.

WORK CONDITIONS
Most street children find themselves some work, even though they may not be steady and lose jobs regularly. Many think of rag picking as a "job". A study in 1989 shows that 39.3% working children are paid inadequately, and 34% complain of being forced to overwork. Many children are lured into bonded work or "work-camps" that they are unable to escape from, due to unscrupulous and cruel proprietors or middlemen.

DESIRE TO BE SECURE
A recent study in Madras shows that many street children (45.6%) would like to live in a secure place, while 71% are very eager to change their present life. 63% of children have an ambition to do something meaningful in their future. The vast majority of them have a survival instinct and the tenacity that helps them survive the day to day trials of street life. That does not, however, provide them a future

AGE OF CHILDREN
The average age of street children is:
33% 6-10yrs
40% 11-15yrs
27% 16yrs +

HEALTH CONDITIONS
The health condition of street children is generally poor. Many suffer from chronic diseases like TB, leprosy, typhoid, malaria, jaundice and liver/kidney disorders. Venereal disease is rampant among older ones (14yrs+). Scabies, gangrene, broken limbs and epilepsy are common. HIV & AIDS cases are now widely seen. Most street children are exposed to dirt, smoke and other environmental hazards. They are constantly exposed to intense sun, rain and cold. Though there are supposed to be "free" Government / Municipal Hospitals in all cities, street children do not have easy access to them due the need to pay bribes to enter, or the indifferent or hostile treatment meted out to them by the staff. Bangalore, Vijayawada and Hyderabad report extreme conditions in this regard.

For more information about street children please visit following URLs:
http://www.skcv.com/street%20children%20in%20india.htm
http://www.gvnet.com/streetchildren/India.htm
http://www.workingchild.org/htm/cwc.htm - this is an NGO working in Banglore
http://www.streetchildren.org.uk/resources/details/?type=country&country=64

Please do let us know your thoughts on street children and how we can make a difference to their lives.
Do send in your opinion(s), suggestion(s) and information.

- Spandana Team

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