Street Children In Kenya

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BACKGROUND
The definition of the term street child has been widely contested but the most accepted and commonly used definition is the one formulated in 1983 by the Inter-NGO programme for street children, ‘any boy or girl under the age of eighteen years for whom the street in the broadest sense of the word including unoccupied dwellings, wastelands has become his or her habitual abode and or source of livelihood and who is inadequately protected, supervised or directed by responsible adults’.
The issue of street children in Kenya was first noticed during the colonial period in the early 1950’s. During this period the colonialist imprisoned men and women leading to breaking of the family unit. The children were left to fend for themselves
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The most common and well known are those who have made the streets their permanent dwelling places. The street children live in difficult and harsh social economic conditions for lack of better and alternatives living conditions.
Different reasons and circumstances have been attributed to the rise in the number of street children. Some street children happen to have family connections whereas others do not have any family connections. They have probably been abandoned while others choose to run away from their families as a result of issues such as marriage break down, being left as orphans, mistreatment and
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Key among the challenges that these young ones face is lack of basic needs (food, shelter and clothing). The street children have always been known to be the dirty and not so well clothed young children roaming in the street begging for money and food. Pass by the urban street during the night and the sight is of the little ones who have no place to call home rounded up on the street sleeping on cartons in the cold while others are in the trench and public parks. Before the repealing of the Vagrancy act the issue of street children was actually viewed as being criminal offence since the act criminalized not having any fixed abode to call home. The children also face the challenge of education in that they rarely or do not have any access to educational facilities regardless of the fact that free and compulsory education is a right guaranteed for each and every child under article 53(1)(b) of the constitution of Kenya, 2010. Abuse is another challenge they encounter while living on the streets. Some are recruited into criminal gangs hence participating in crime so as to provide for themselves while others are also abused through wrongful arrest. Young girls and boys also face the danger of being defiled. While still on the street the street children need to survive and as result they end up being exploited through activities such as child labor and child

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