Comparative analysis of outreach work with street children in Latvia, Czech Republic and India

M. Lotko, L. Leikuma and M. Gopalswamy Battle -- 5th International Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference Society, Health, Welfare

This study notes that there are currently 700 million people below the poverty line. According to this study, around 40 percent are considered vulnerable children.  It further states that according to UNICEF India has approximately 11 million children living on the streets.  It is one of the highest concentration of the street children in the world.  To investigate the status of street children, this study investigated outreach work in Latvia, Czech Republic and India.

Statistical data was collected and qualitative research was conducted.  The researchers investigated outreach work in Latvia and noted in particular a study project from 1997 entitled “A child on the street.” This project focused special attention to children who lived on the street, and these children were added to the classification of orphans.  The study further notes an organization called Association “Street Children” that helps member organizations work on the problems associated with children living on the streets.  The study article also points out that in 1999, NGOs were involved in a network of NGOs from all across Latvia joined together to address street children.  Some of the programs included: seminars, surveys, and web site development.

Concerning the Czech Republic, the article notes that the most common age of street children ranged between the ages 10 and 18 years.  The reasons that children in the Czech Republic were on the street included: sexual abuse; addiction; and foreigners looking for better circumstances.  Other reasons included lack of space at home, dislike of parents, poverty, and mental disorders.  In both Latvia and the Czech Republic, the majority of street children came from dysfunctional family situations.  The study states that the Children Rights Committee in the Czech Republic has expressed concerns over the rising rate of children living on the street, and there is concern that the children are vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.  There are about 90 organizations in the Czech Republic that handle issues pertaining to street children, and these organizations have developed approximately 55 outreach programs, which are listed in the study.

The study reports that there are about 190 organizations in India working with street children.  Many of these organizations situate themselves at entry points, such as train stations and bus stands, to meet children who arrive in the country.  The study says this sort of positioning is crucial to the well-being of the children who arrive in the country.  Many faith-based organizations help organizations who work with street children.  Many organizations offer meals to the poor or serve as contact centers, a place where children can stay for a few hours and participate in ongoing recreational or educational activities.  Most agencies provide shelters and home separately for children.