Who is a street child? Street children are minors who live and survive on the streets. They often grow up in public landfills, train stations, our under the bridges of the world’s major cities. Because of conflicts with their family, these children don’t want to or can’t return home. Why does a child live on the streets? The phenomenon of street children is multifaceted. The combination of familial, economic, social, and political factors play an important role in their situation. It is therefore very difficult to single out one or more causes. However, children who have been questioned say that family, poverty, abuse, war, etc. are often why they left for the streets. What are the problems encountered by street children? Street children are confronted by a large number of problems. In fact, growing up in an environment generally regarded as dangerous, they incur considerable risks. As a consequence, some of their rights are very often compromised. Right to Food Street children often don’t have access to a healthy and sufficient diet. Sometimes they don’t even have food, because living on the streets, they don’t produce any and don’t have money to buy. Also, these children don’t benefit from a balanced diet: they eat what they can find. Sometimes, when they have the choice, they even favour unhealthy foods such as ice cream, cakes, etc. and so run the risk of malnutrition. Growth problems are also common with these children. Right to Health The health of children growing up on the streets is strongly compromised. In fact, they don’t have access to sanitary facilities: they are often dirty and infested with fleas. Also, because of their lack of hygiene, street children are exposed to different diseases. Their health is often troubling. Without a family to take care of them, these youth must take care of themselves. Additionally, street children, to escape their reality, often use cannabis, alcohol, or inhale natural gas. Unfortunately, these very hard living conditions, have a negative impact not only on their physical and psychosocial development, but also on their cultural and economic development. Right to Education Street Children are obviously not educated. Because of this, they don’t have the same opportunities as other children. In fact, because they don’t see a future for themselves, and because they have no professional training, they are hindered from finding a job and from finally leaving the streets. Right to Non-discrimination “People speak badly of us, they blame us for everything, and call us lost children.” Seen as marginal, street youth are often victims of discrimination. Generally, adults have prejudices that stigmatise them as “street children”. Consequently, they are often associated with the dangers of the streets. It is often difficult for these children to reintegrate into society. What can be done to help street children? The problem of street children is dependant on their situation and not on their status. In fact, each child has a personal history with the street that cannot be generalised. Because of this, the care of street children must, to be effective, hinge on the different situations on the streets, in other words, on the many “child profiles”. It is important to analyse the relationship a child has with the street. In order to better understand children living and growing up on the streets, it is essential both to make them participate, and to put them in contact with key institutions or individuals looking to understand the structural causes of their situation. Abstract: ``Children are travellers, newly arrived in a country of which they know nothing.'' {\it --John Locke} Street children represent a rapidly growing socio-educational challenge affecting both the developing and industrialized nations of the world. At risk for physical, emotional, social, and cognitive violation, these children are in need of interventions that appropriately address their needs in the context of their environment, and build upon the positive survival skills that they have developed as a result of street life. This paper explores the causes, and consequences of this growing phenomenon. It seeks to make known the global dimensions of the physical, social, mental and developmental health consequences of street life for the child. It offers possible occupational therapy intervention strategies and opportunities for working with street children which transition them from youth to mainstream adult and citizenship in the world. the children “Humanity has to do its best for the child.” Declaration of Geneva. Definition of the child Etymologically, the term “child” Definition of the child Etymologically, the term “child” comes from the Latin infans which means ” the one who does not speak “. For the Roman, this term designates the child from its birth, up to the age of 7 years. This notion evolved a lot through centuries and cultures to finally designate human being from birth until adulthood. But this conception of the child was wide and the age of the majority varied from a culture to an another. The Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 defines more precisely the term “child”: “[…] a child is any human being below the age of eighteen years, unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier” The idea, through this definition and all the texts concerning child welfare, is that the child is a human being with rights and dignity. What characterizes the child, it is his youth and vulnerability. Indeed, the child is growing, a future adult, who has no means to protect himself. So, the child has to be the object of a particular interest and a specific protection. In this perspective, texts proclaiming the protection of the child and his rights were adopted. Definition of the rights of the child The recognition of the rights of the children Children’s rights were recognised after the 1st World war, with the adoption of the Declaration of Geneva, in 1924. The process of recognition of children’s rights continued thanks to the UN, with the adoption of the Declaration of children’s rights in 1959. The recognition of the child’s interest and his rights become real on 20 November 1989 with the adoption of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child which is the first international legally binding text recognizing all the fundamental rights of the child. Children’s rights: human rights Children’s rights are human rights. They protect the child as a human being. As human rights, children’s rights are constituted by fundamental guarantees and essential human rights: Children’s rights recognize fundamental guarantees to all human beings: the right to life, the non-discrimination principle, the right to dignity through the protection of physical and mental integrity (protection against slavery, torture and bad treatments, etc.) Children’s rights are civil and political rights, such as the right to identity, the right to a nationality, etc. Children’s rights are economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to education, the right to a decent standard of living, the right to health, etc. Children’s rights include individual rights: the right to live with his parents, the right to education, the right to benefit from a protection, etc. Children’s rights include collective rights: rights of refugee and disabled children, of minority children or from autochthonous groups. Children’s rights: rights adapted to children Children’s rights are human rights specifically adapted to the child because they take into account his fragility, specificities and age-appropriate needs. Children’s rights take into account the necessity of development of the child. The children thus have the right to live and to develop suitably physically and intellectually. Children’s rights plan to satisfy the essential needs for a good development of the child, such as the access to an appropriate alimentation, to necessary care, to education, etc. Children’s rights consider the vulnerable character of the child. They imply the necessity to protect them. It means to grant a particular assistance to them and to give a protection adapted to their age and to their degree of maturity. So, the children have to be helped and supported and must be protected against labour exploitation, kidnapping, and ill-treatment, etc.


Right to Life

The right to life means that each child must be able to live his or her own life. Children have the right not to be killed. They have the right to survive and to grow up in proper conditions.

Right to Education

The right to education allows each child to receive instruction, to enjoy a social life, and to build his or her own future. This right is essential for economic, social and cultural development.

Right to Food

The right to food is the right of each child to eat. It is the right to not die of hunger and to not suffer from malnutrition. Every five seconds, a child dies of hunger somewhere in the world.

Right to Health

The right to health means that children must be protected against illness. They must be allowed to grow and become healthy adults. This contributes to developing an active society.

Right to Water

The right to water means children have the right to safe drinking water and proper sanitary conditions. The right to water is essential for good health, survival and proper growth.

Right to Identity

Each child has the right to have a surname, a firstname, a nationality, and to know who his or her relatives are. The right to identity also means that each child’s existence and rights must be officially recognised.

Right to Freedom

The right to liberty is the child’s right to express him or herself, to have opinions, to have access to information, and to participate in decisions which affect his or her life. Children also have the right to religious freedom.

Right to Protection

The right to protection is the right to live in a secure and protective environment which preserves the child’s well-being. Each child has the right to be protected from all forms of mistreatment, discrimination, and exploitation.



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