Who are they?
Street children describes children who live or work on the streets. Some of these children live with their families (who are also living on the streets). Other street children live and work on the streets but do not live with their families. The term can also include child labourers, sexually-exploited children, and war-affected children, who may also be forced to live or work on the street. The children's relationship to the street varies. Some live and work with their parents on the streets. Some return home at night, but work independently during the day. Others maintain their family contacts, but are forced to spend most of their time on the streets and return home once in a while to spend a night with their family. Still others sleep and live entirely on the streets of the big cities without any family contact at all: often they have left home due to abuse. They sleep in abandoned buildings, under bridges, in doorways, or in public parks.
How many are there?
The global figure for children living and working on the world's city streets is likely well over 100 million children. And that number rises every day. About 40 percent of them are homeless. These children may support only themselves or their homeless families. The other 60 percent work on the streets to support their families, but have a home to return to.
These young people range in age from three to eighteen. Most of them are in developing countries. Street children are mainly boys, but the number of girls is increasing.
Why are they on the streets?
Children and youth may take to the streets for a number of reasons including war, poverty, urbanization, political instability, natural disasters, family breakdown, AIDS, rebellion against their parents, insufficient income, and violence including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Children who live and work on the streets are often the victims of violence, sexual exploitation, neglect, chemical addiction, and human...