ECONOMIC poverty plays a major role in the rising number of street children, although other factors equally contribute to this social vice. These can include: parental deaths, parental neglect and other social factors such as peer influence, violence and abuse of children at home or within communities.
Every single child has their own unique story. The reasons for their connection to the streets will vary from country to country, city to city, and from person to person.
These factors will also vary over time, such as poverty, displacement due to natural disasters and conflicts or family breakdown all lead to increases in the numbers of street children in a given area.
Street children are a huge problem and any solution, even if it harsh, will at least contribute to resolving the seemingly unending problem. Street children are one of the most vulnerable groups on the planet.
It is, however, important to note that not all children who can be described as ‘street children’ are necessarily homeless.
They may work, play or spend their time on the street, but may go back to sleep under the roof of their parents or guardians.
Take for instance the children who are used by their parents, guardians and others to beg on the street every single day.
These are on the street on a daily basis but obviously later go back to their homes after their begging activities.
This is among the many serious problem each country and their governments are having in dealing with the street children.
Kitwe Mayor, Christopher Kang’ombe, like other stakeholders have in the past done, has called for collective effort to address the root cause and also to deal with elderly men and women, who tag along with children asking for alms on the streets.
This is a starting point to deal with this type of street children because there are some guardians, who assign children to go on street-begging missions as a way of living.
“The challenge we have is that some guardians allow their children to beg on the streets so that they can help make ends meet in their homes,” the Mayor observed.
But how best can the mission of dealing with such a problem be dealt with? Would children get relief of being sent to flood the streets for coins if parents had other ways of earning a living? One wonders how feasible this is.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has found that children who are forced to beg by third parties are often removed from their families, surrender the majority of their income to their exploiter, endure unsafe work and living conditions, and are at times injured to increase profits.
Studies have shown that children forced into begging primarily receive little to no education, with upwards of sixteen hours a day dedicated to time on the streets.
With education being a leading method in escaping poverty, child beggars have been shown to engage in a cyclical process of continuing this practice cross-generationally.
It is therefore important to find ways on how to collectively deal with guardians earning a living on begging in order to rid the streets of threatening children.