Street children Essay Example

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Street Children

For over three decades now, street children have been the centre of attention for both governments and aid agencies. The special needs of children living in the streets captured the global attention following the declaration of the International Year of the Child in 1979. 1982 saw the formation of the Inter NGO Programme on Street Children and Street Youth, a move that further helped reveal the plight of street children. Over the years, more organisations and policies aimed at addressing the challenges faced by this population have been established. The plight of the street children has also attracted the interest of researchers and scholars. The current paper reviews some of the works written by scholars and researchers with respect to street children.

Glauser (1990) discusses the issue of street children, with the focus being on the street children of Asunción, Paraguay. In the introductory section, Glauser (128) highlights the situation in the country as far as street children are concerned. He points out that their numbers had started to grow noticeably starting from the 1980’s, stating that his research work into this phenomenon started in 1983. In this chapter of the text, Glauser (128) focuses on the state of knowledge about street children, referring to both theoretical and practical sources. Glauser uses a personal narrative approach in his discussion. In his discussion of the definition of the term “children of the street.” Glauser (128) states that the definition used at the grass root level usually refers to children who live on the streets as opposed to those who work on the streets and go back home. According to Glauser, it is important to establish a clear definition of which street children are. He then goes on to narrate his experiences with the street children, highlighting some of the difficulties he faced while interacting with them and the new insights that the direct interaction with the children opened. Despite not making any direct reference to a particular theoretical model, Glauser (131) refers to the arguments presented by other authors as well as information provided by different organisations such as UNICEF.

On the other hand, Kennelly (3) focuses on the implications that major sporting events have on the homeless young people. He pays particular attention to how the homeless youths on the streets of Vancouver were affected by the 2010 Olympic Games. Just like Glauser, Kennelly (3) takes an ethnographic approach. However, that is where the similarities end. Glauser’s piece is a chapter of a text while Kennelly’s piece is a journal article. Kennelly goes a step further to describe the methods he used to collect and analyse information and succinctly describes the setting and event of interest. Kennelly makes it clear that in the quest to make Olympic host cities gain a good reputation, the organisers and governments undertake a series of processes such as city marketing, city cleaning, and self-regulation. These processes are reported to have a direct impact on homeless youth out in the streets. In the conclusion, Kennelly (22) reports that the homeless youth are a marginalised group and that they never benefit from Olympic legacies. This is often the case even when the organising committees promise to do something about their plight. Kennelly uses simple language with very few technical terms and refers to a wide range of sources.

United Nations agencies have been on the forefront when it comes to revealing the plight of street children and coming up with strategies to help them. Most of the findings by the agencies are reported in the form of technical reports, as is the case with the UN ODCCP report titled Rapid Situation Assessment (RSA) of street children in Cairo and Alexandria. The report acknowledges the fact that the problem of street children is global in nature and that the street children in the two Egyptian cities of Cairo and Alexandria are in many ways similar to those in other cities of the world. The report identifies several factors that have contributed to the problem of street children in Egypt. They include child abuse and neglect, family breakdown as well as poverty. The report also highlights some of the challenging experiences that the street children have to cope with, citing some of the efforts that have been implemented in the past to try to tackle the problem. After offering a description of the challenges faced by street children in Cairo and Alexandria, the report gives a recommendation on what can be best done to solve the problem. Compared to both Kennelly’s and Glauser’s pieces, the UN ODCCP report is quite broader in terms of context. The report also relies on a wide range of sources, facts that help strengthen its validity. Arguments are presented in an orderly manner, with the authors subdividing the entire report into chapters and subsections. Readers can easily navigate to specific chapters by looking at the table of contents.

The problem of street children does not only exist in developing countries, but it is also present in developed countries such as Australia. Homeless Australia (1) highlights this issue in one of its fact sheets. It is reported that out of all the homeless people in Australia, homeless children are 27% of the said population. It is further reported that this figure might even be an underestimation given the shortcomings of census as a tool for finding out how many children are homeless. Homeless Australia (2) also acknowledges the fact that the problem of homelessness for children arises as a result of a combination of factors, including housing affordability, domestic and family violence, mental illness as well as financial crises. Unlike the previous articles, Homeless Australia Factsheet highlights the impact of homelessness on children, pointing out how their education and health is negatively affected. Despite being shorter than the three other sources already discussed, Homeless Australia Factsheet on Children and Homelessness also quotes some studies that have been conducted on street children so far.

Apart from scholarly works and reports by both government and non-governmental organisations, the media has also been on the forefront in making the public aware of the plight of the street children. This has been made possible through having the street children telling their own stories and even taking photographs of the street children as done by Sofia Jern. In her article by the title Photo Essay: The Homeless Children on the Streets of Kitale, Kenya, Jern focuses on the struggles of street children in the Western Kenya town of Kitale. Unlike the previous articles, Jern’s article includes pictures of the street children. The inclusion of the pictures is meant to show the world that the problem of street children is real and that the children are not having it easy in the streets. Jern’s article also utilises a narrative approach, but makes use of a lot of flowery language unlike in the previous articles. She also fails to quote any reliable source and does not mention any particular theories. The use of pictures in her narrative goes a great length to support her arguments. Jern states a number of statistics, including the number of street children in Kenya. However, she fails to mention her sources of information.

Suri and Khan also utilise the online mass media platform to discuss the plight of street children in India. Their focus is on an Indian newspaper that provides a platform for street children to air their views. The article starts by describing a typical day for a street boy by the name Shambhu before going on to highlight one of the initiatives that Shambhu and other street boys are part of. Suri and Khan point out that these street boys run a newspaper, which they use to air their views and opinions to the public. They then highlight how often the newspaper is published, how much it sells for, and the key issues that are discussed in the newspapers. The reporters quote several sources, including a 2011 survey, which found that half of India’s street children are illiterate and about 50% have endured physical, verbal and even sexual violence in the past. Unlike the previous articles that do not mention some of the positive contributions that street children are making in the urban areas, Suri and Khan highlight some of the constructive activities that these kids engage in. Just like Jern, Suri and Khan make use of pictures to reinforce their narrative. However, they do not mention or refer to any theories.

Alem and Laha (1) conducted a meta-analysis with the aim of examining the livelihood of street children and the social interventions that can be used to address their plight. They make several arguments in this article; one of them is that rural-urban migration is one of the key contributors to the constantly increasing number of street children. In their meta-analysis, Alem and Laha (1) point out that they were able to identify 31 studies on street children conducted in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In their findings, they report that the most prominent informal occupation of street children is working as daily labourers and that despite the street children in Africa, Asia and Latin America facing similar challenges, a number of differences do exist. Unlike Suri and Khan as well as Jern, Alem and Laha (1) substantiate their arguments by making extensive reference to studies published in the past. Biggeri and Anich (73) examine the deprivation of street children, their focus being on the street children of Kampala. They argue that the view of children as social actors has become widespread. They also refer to a wide range of past studies, stating that they a good number of them support the notion that children are social actors. Biggeri and Anich (73) systematically organise their article and even go a step further to refer to a couple of theories, the most prominent one being the social actor theory.

Haider (159) focuses on the street children within the context of urban design and planning. He argues that street children are a marginalised group of people who are often exposed to a wide range of human rights abuses. Haider (159) opines that street children can be found in all cities of the world, hence the need to come up with strategies that can be applied at the global levels. Just like Biggeri and Anich, Haider (160) cites several literature sources and studies conducted in the past. He recommends a child-centred approach in dealing with the problem of street children. Parker-Rees and Leeson (107) in their text titled Early Childhood Studies, also discuss the issues affecting children who live and work on the streets. They argue that these children are often classed as both “at risk” and “as a risk.” Despite divulging into the topic of street children in only a single chapter, the authors manage to refer to works published by other scholars. Being a scholarly text, Parker-Rees and Leeson (107) do not include pictures and personal narratives in their discussion.

Works Cited

Alem, Habtamu Wandimu, and Arindam Laha. «Livelihood of Street Children and the Role of Social Intervention: Insights from Literature Using Meta-Analysis.» Child Development Research 2016 (2016).

Biggeri, Mario, and Rudolf Anich. «The deprivation of street children in Kampala: Can the capability approach and participatory methods unlock a new perspective in research and decision making?» Mondes en développement 2 (2009): 73-93.

Glauser, Benno. “Street children: deconstructing a construct”, in A James & A Prout (eds), Constructing and reconstructing childhood: Contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood, The Falmer Press, London. 1990. 128-144. Print 

Haider, Jawaid. «Street Children and the Right to Public Space.»

Homelessness Australia. “Homelessness and Children”. 2016.

Jern, Sofia. Photo Essay: The Homeless Children on the Streets of Kitale, Kenya. Petapixel 22 Apr 2017. Accessed 19th Jul 2017.

Kennelly, Jacqueline. «‘You’re making our city look bad’: Olympic security, neoliberal urbanization, and homeless youth.» Ethnography 16.1 (2015): 3-24.

Parker-Rees, Rod, and Caroline Leeson, eds. Early childhood studies. Learning Matters, 2015.

Suri, Manveena & Khan, Omar. The Indian newspaper giving street children a voice. CNN, 1 May 2017. Accessed 19th Jul 2017.

UN ODCCP, “Rapid Situation Assessment (RSA) of street children in Cairo and Alexandria.”