Definition of street children
A street child is a child of any gender who is still a minor and who considers the streets (this includes wastelands and abandoned homes) their place of residence. Street children usually live alone and are unprotected by any form of responsible adult.
Why children may become street children?
Children can become homeless and end up living on the streets for a wide variety of reasons. From poverty in the family which causes them to be unable to sustain a child, or overcrowding, to other more damaging problems at home like sexual or physical abuse by a member of the family or a close relative or friend. Another major reason for children becoming homeless is an external force such as a war or national conflict, or a natural disaster, although this tends to affect entire families rather than the child alone.
Effects faced by street children
The effect of living such an unstable lifestyle is detrimental to a child of any age. Living on dirty and polluted streets, especially in less economically developed countries, is in no doubt an unsanitary way of life, and with no ways of obtaining medical care these kids are prone to a number of diseases and illnesses rife on the streets, some more deadly than others. Living on the streets can lead to all sorts of mental, social and emotional problems, and depending on the reasons for living on the streets the child may feel neglected also. As well as this they will lack the love, care and security which every child requires, leaving them not only feeling unloved but in plenty of danger and in more ways than one. This may in turn cause children to turn to drugs or other substance abuse in order to escape these feelings and pain.
In addition, children living on the streets will have no means of gaining any education, which will definitely hinder their growth and mental stimulation, bringing them at a learning age younger than those of peers the same age as them. On top of this, this will lead them to struggle later in life and in social situations as well.
Why we should help?
With a huge number of around 100 million children estimated to be living on one of the world’s many streets today according to a report from the Consortium for Street Children, it is paramount that we do all we can to aid them and help save them. And this number is not even certain, there are possibly many more and all around the world as well. These children are at their most vulnerable when on the streets and exposed to all sorts of dangers like ill-treatment, exploitation, and all sorts of abuse from people who use them for a gain such as selling drugs, prostitution and stealing.
What you can do as a volunteer?
As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to volunteer in shelter homes for children found on the streets. Here you will have the role of providing care and showing love to these children, whilst also teaching them any skills and activities you may know and basic literacy, which will help to raise their education.
But overall what you will bring to them is happiness, spending time and playing with them will surely bring a smile to their faces and increase their trust in other people and feeling of being loved, an unquestionably rewarding experience for the volunteer.
Wikipedia. Street Children. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_children#Public_approaches_to_street_children
Volunteering India. Volunteer with Street Children in India. Retrieved from: http://www.volunteeringindia.com/volunteer-street-children.html