FACTBOX - "They're little criminals" and other myths about street children

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:22 GMT
A boy tries to avoid scattered garbage floating on a flooded street in Shantou, Guangdong province August 23, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
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LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – There are many myths and misconceptions about street children: from who they are, to what they do, to why they are there.

 Here are some myths and facts about street children:

  • Street children are children who sleep on the street. Although some of the children live on the street, the term “street children” also refers to children who work or spend time on the street. 
  • Street children only exist in poor countries. There are children on the street in developed countries such as Britain, the United States and Canada. Sometimes they are known as runaways or homeless.
  • Children are on the streets because they have no family. Some street children spend their days on the streets and return to their families at night. Some end up on the streets because of family breakdown or because they have lost contact with family members in a disaster or conflict. Some children are tempted by the glamour of the city or the hope of financial independence.
  • Street children are criminals. Street children adopt various methods to survive on the street. Some steal, some beg, some collect rubbish or recycling, some work as shoe shiners. Girls in particular are at risk of being forced into prostitution or trafficked for sex or domestic work. By criminalising these survival methods, society alienates and stigmatises street children. 
  • Street children receive no help from the society. There are various organisations that work to improve the lives of street children. On the eve of The International Day of Street Children, street children and several supporting organisations have called on the United Nations and governments to ensure that street children have access to education. The campaign, Street Children Demand Action on Education, can be supported on Twitter with a #TweetForTheStreet.

For more stories about street children visit trust.org's spotlight "Street children - the hidden crisis" 

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