Street Child is a term used to refer to children who live on the streets. Definitions of street children vary; the most commonly accepted set of definitions, attributed to UNICEF, defines street children into two main categories:
Children end up on the streets for a variety of reasons. Often, children have no choice but the streets because they are abandoned, orphaned, or thrown out of their homes.
Some street children choose to live on the streets because the conditions at home are so bad; they may be mistreated, neglected, or their families cannot provide them with basic necessities. Many children seek work on the streets to increase their family earnings so they can survive.
Causes: Poverty | Family Conflict | Physical and Sexual Abuse | Exploitation by Adults
What happens in early childhood can matter for a lifetime. In young children, stress resulting from major trauma such as extreme poverty and homelessness can weaken the developing brain and can lead to lifelong problems. The consequences of early trauma can be prevented and society can ensure that all children and their families are prepared through family local community centers.
Children often experience chronic stress and trauma from frequent moves; inconsistent relationships; lack of places to play; and witnessing domestic violence and substance abuse. This stress and trauma is emotionally and cognitively damaging to them which leads them to live on the streets.
Street Children face many hardships living on the streets. Some of these include violence, sexual abuse, poverty, malnutrition, and other increased health problems.
Children are often beaten by people, the weaker children and girls are beaten by the older children and gang members.
Street children have also been forced to give sexual favors. Female street children are sexually abused by many other males as well, including other street children.
Children on the streets often turn to drugs to make themselves feel better. However, the drug abuse makes the children more vulnerable to violence and abuse.
The children living on the street have very little or, more usually, no money to use to support themselves. As a result, street children turn to begging, self prostitution, and other degrading work for money.
Since these children live in poverty they do not have access to food to maintain good health. Often children spend what money they make on drugs or unhealthy.