International Day for Street Children 2022

Stories from the street: building trust, building futures

On the 12th of April, organisations around the world will be recognising International Day for Street Children: a special day acknowledging the strength and resilience of millions of street children around the world.

International Day for Street Children (IDSC) has been celebrated globally since 2012, to recognise the humanity, dignity and defiance of street children in the face of unimaginable hardships.

This year, we are also recognising the work and dedication shown by those working on the streets with children, and call for proper recognition and support to be given to these frontline workers.

Why street children?

There are millions of children in the world whose lives are inextricably connected with public spaces: streets, buildings, and shopping centers, etc. Some of these children will live on the streets, sleeping in parks, doorways or bus shelters. Others may have homes to go back to, but they rely on the streets for survival and sustenance.

They may be referred to as ‘street children’, ‘street-connected children’, ‘homeless children’ or ‘homeless youth’. Also – at times – they may be described in more negative terms such as ‘beggars’, ‘juvenile delinquents’ and ‘thieves’. Labels that judge a child in this way disguise the fact that these vulnerable children are owed the care, protection, and above all, respect due to all children.

In the words of our patron, The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH, “When children are not cared for we – governments and individuals – have all let them down. It is extraordinary that street children have been left so far behind for so long. Extraordinary – and indefensible. It is as if they are invisible to the conscience of the world.”

Street Children Have Rights

Just like all children, street children have rights enshrined in The Child Rights Convention, which has near universal ratification and support. In 2017, the United Nations have specifically acknowledged these children’s rights in a document called the General Comment (No.21) on Children in Street Situations.

The General Comment tells governments how they should treat street children in their countries as well as how to improve current practices.

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been signed by every country in the world bar one [the US] but governments have always told us, ‘we can’t apply this convention to street children because it is too difficult.’ The General Comment will enable us to show them how to implement it to ensure street children are offered the same human rights protection as all other children,” said Caroline Ford, (CSC Chief Executive Jan 2017- Feb 2021).

IDSC 2022 – Celebrating Frontline Workers

In 2018, CSC launched our 5-year ‘4 Steps to Equality’ campaign – a call to governments around the world to take four steps that will achieve equality for street children.

The 4 Steps to Equality is based on the UN General Comment on Children in Street Situations, breaking it into four actionable steps:

  1. Commit to Equality
  2. Protect Every Child
  3. Provide Access to Services
  4. Create Specialised Solutions

In 2022, we concentrate on Step 4: encouraging governments and communities to create specialised solutions for issues affecting street-connected children. It is not possible to create these solutions without having workers who have the unique skills and experiences of working with street-connected children.

Join us in calling for proper recognition and support for those working with street-connected children on the frontline.Why focus on frontline workers?

Life on the street creates unique issues for children. Their experiences may mean it is difficult to trust adults. Frontline workers meet street children where they are, taking the time to get to know children’s lives and the spaces they live in.

They build relationships with street-connected children, and help them to explore solutions that are tailored to their needs. We consider street social workers as frontline workers, but also other trusted adults, such as bus drivers, hawkers, and aunties/uncles. They help street-connected children to enjoy their rights by ensuring they can stay with family (if the child wants), or providing alternative care, and providing street outreach work.

The work these individuals do is vital – they bring stability, trust and support when children have nowhere else to turn – which is why this year’s IDSC theme calls for them to enjoy proper recognition and support.

More information: 7 reasons to celebrate Frontline Workers