The rise in the number of street children in all cities across the world has raised alarms on the plight of these innocent young ones. The street houses three types of children, the street living children, street working children, and children from street families (Amy 2012, p. 5). The fist group refers to those children who run away from their families to live alone in the streets. The second group houses those children that spend most of their time on the street fending for themselves but returning home on a regular basis. Finally, the last group represents children who live on the streets with their families. The children that find themselves in any of the group are most likely victims of the situations (Amy 2012, p.10).
The crude life in the streets hits hard on the children who are dependent on support from the well-wishers to cater for their needs. However, the present lack forces the street children to find out ways of catering for their need at all costs. It is in the meeting of the basic need that some of the street children fall prey to the criminal activities. Therefore, this paper shall debate on the question whether street children are victims or criminals in the society (Amy 2012, p. 20).
Street children to a large extent can be said to be victims of circumstances (Brellend 2011, p. 14). The hard life that these children undergo while on the street is not admirable to any child. Therefore, there is no child who can opt to live on the streets on his or her free will. The decision to live on the streets is forcefully made by the situations at hand in the life of either the child or his or her family.
Firstly, most of the street children are victims of the sudden demise of their parents or guardians. The universal rights of children demand that parents or guardians provide basic needs to their children. However, in the event of the loss of life of the parent or guardian, the children are left with no one to take care them if the society around, pushes them away (Brellend 2011, p. 30). This scenario mostly affects the children from the poor family who live in rented houses, go to public schools, and depend on subsidized medical care costs from the government. The poor family mostly lack assets, which can be used to cater for the child in the event of the death of parents. Therefore, the children find no other alternative rather than running into the streets to find comfort together with those they can easily associate with in their suffering. These children end up becoming victims of the death of their parents.
Secondly, some of the street children find themselves on the cold due to armed conflict in their countries. The issue of political rivalry in most undeveloped and developing nations has led to the eviction of families who fear to be attacked by the militants. In the eruption of civil war in these towns, the families run for safety to other towns without considering their belongings (Brellend 2011, p. 45). Therefore, many families end up separating and heading to different directions. The children who get lost in the process end up finding themselves on the streets if their parents are unable to trace them. These children, therefore, join the street families as victims of civil wars.
Thirdly, children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse may end up joining the streets. The cruel behavior of some parents and guardians or close relatives toward the children may induce fear in them (Street 2000, p. 34). Children that end up being abused sexually by parents or family members grow in fear and develop a sense of insecurity in their homes. As the abuse continues, the child sense of insecurity grows, and finally he or she moves away from parents or guardians in search of a new habitat. As a result, these children end up finding themselves on the streets if the society is unable to protect them from their abuse. Moreover, the children that undergo physical abuse such as extreme beatings, child labor end up developing the lack of trust in their parents and the society at a large and eventually run to the streets in search of peace (Street 2000, p. 37).
Lastly, some children from poor families find themselves in streets as they try to run away from famine. Families that live in semi-arid and arid areas undergo long drought seasons, which are sometimes unbearable on the young ones. As a result, these children move from their homes in search of food, which is a basic human need (Street 2000, p. 67). These children eventually end up forgetting about their homes and stick on the streets where they can easily get food as compared to their homes. These children, therefore, become victims of famine, which accelerates them to join the street families in the cities.
On the other hand, given the nature of life that the street children are exposed to, they end up becoming criminals (Nilsson 2013, p. 25). Since on there are no farms on the streets, the street children have to find ways of getting food on the table. As a result, these innocent children are forced to turn on to the citys residents for survival. The street children end up formulating method of robbing money and other precious belonging from the people walking on the streets, who they feel they are not concerned about them. Food, which is a basic need, therefore, pushes the children to engage in criminal activities so as to get it.
Moreover, since the street children are mostly victims of wars, abuse, famine, and death, they end up developing bitterness towards the society. These children as they continue to mature, they get to realize that someone who was supposed to protect them from living in the street failed to play their role. These as results pile the pressure on the street children to try cause trouble on people who they believe are supposed to help them. As a result, the street children join hands to form gangs that get involved in criminal activities such as bank robbery, high carjacking, and house robbery. Also, some of the children so as to control their bitterness toward the society they engage in drug abuse. The use of prohibited drugs by the street children eventually makes them criminals before the law of the cities (Nilsson 2013, p. 45).
The debate above clearly shows that the street children can be either victims or criminals based on their different circumstances. The street children, however, fall into the two categories due to the negligence of the society in being insensitive to the issues affecting the normal child. The debate exposes the loopholes that lead to the increase of the street children in the cities across the world, which is estimated to be 100 million today. Therefore, by protecting the children from becoming victims of circumstance, they will not end up being criminals (Nilsson 2013, p. 77).
Amy, H. (2012). The street children of Dickens's London. Stroud: Amberley.
Brellend, K. (2011). The street. London: Harper.
Nilsson, A. (2013). Children and youth in armed conflict. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
Street, C. (2000). Whose crisis?. London: YoungMinds.
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