From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Street children is a term used to refer to children who live on the streets of a city. They are deprived of family care and protection. Most children on the streets are between the ages of about 5 and 17 years old, and their population between different cities is varied.
Street children live in abandoned buildings, cardboard boxes, parks or on the street itself. A great deal has been written defining street children, but the primary difficulty is that there are no precise categories, but rather a continuum, ranging from children who spend some time in the streets and sleep in a house with ill-prepared adults, to those who live entirely in the streets and have no adult supervision or care.
A widely accepted set of definitions, commonly attributed to UNICEF, divides street children into two main categories:
- Children on the street are those engaged in some kind of economic activity ranging from begging to vending. Most go home at the end of the day and contribute their earnings to their family. They may be attending school and retain a sense of belonging to a family. Because of the economic fragility of the family, these children may eventually opt for a permanent life on the streets.
- Children of the street actually live on the street (or outside of a normal family environment). Family ties may exist but are tenuous and are maintained only casually or occasionally.
Street children exist in many major cities, especially in developing countries, and may be subject to abuse, neglect, exploitation, or even in extreme cases murder by "cleanup squads" hired by local businesses or police.