The situation of street children in Brazil has gained worldwide attention. They are mainly from poor families who continue to sleep under newspapers and eat garbage. They live most of their time on the street and are often vulnerable to violence, drugs, malnutrition and disease.
According to the federal government of Brazil, there are two hundred thousand street children. There are doubts about the bona fide number of street children exist in Brazil, as the term itself needs a better definition. The figures are sometimes grossly exaggerated. It seems as if the elite and government agencies have washed their hands from these national grievances.
Street children are categorized into four groups:
1.Live on streets but no contact with family – These children do not work and often use drugs. At nights they, sleep in the open, homeless, unloved and without a blanket.
2.Partially abandoned and live on streets – Unemployment and drug use is common among these children but they do have some contact with their families.
3.”Children of the closed latch” – Even though they roam the streets, they try to sustain a connection with their families. They prefer to stay away from work and doing drugs is not in their books.
4.Work on the street – These types of children are on the streets doing petty jobs like washing car windows, polishing shoes and selling candy. They stay away from drugs and their main motive of working is to support their families.
The cause of the problem
The problem of street children has its roots in economic and communal system. The lack of stability in family life is the main reason for a child taking to the streets. Street children have experienced domestic violence at the hands of their parents. They turn to the streets as an answer to escape. The child realizes that he cannot trust their parents and no other authority figure. They soon start drugs which to them is a mental escape; a strategy to survive. Most street children are not deserted by their families. Rather, they leave home to escape abuse, poverty or the simple authority of parents. The boy / girl ratio can get to be as high as nine boys for every girl. Since boys are stronger, they are out on the streets while the girls stay at home.
The use of psychotropic, licit and illicit drugs among street children from all Brazilian capitals have reached dramatic proportions. Not only in terms of percentage, but also in terms of intensity of use, unparalleled in other segments of the population.
Often the police lack the qualification and preparation to deal with the problem of street children. Therefore, abuse and violence occur frequently causing a negative image to the police force.
Where do we fit in?
There must be an answer to the problem of street children at risk. It is painful to say this, but while we sleep peacefully in our soft bed, there are children sleeping in the square, with their bellies growling from hunger. And this is not poetry! This is a grave offense, it’s sloppy and a crime. Every child must have shelter, food, education and care.