Their vulnerability

Because they are small, young and defenceless, street children are open to all kinds of physical and/or sexual abuse, and they can be exploited by employers who may demand an enormous amount of work for virtually no money. They can also be exploited by older (stronger) street children.

The formation of both formal and informal ‘gangs’ is common, partly to provide an element of support and defence. Law and order officials and self-styled vigilantes both attempt to ‘clean the street’ of these children in many parts of the world. To discourage them, children can be rounded up, put in the back of a van, brutalised, and then dumped many miles from where they were living.

If you are a street child, you may have to carry heavy loads in the market. You beg, or you may have to steal. You shine shoes or you run between cars selling things. You may sell your body, and/or you may be violated by those who force you into sex.

Because of the conditions, taking drugs or sniffing glue may seem to be the only ‘way out’, albeit a temporary one. Without help and intervention, your future may seem to be bleak.