International Day for Street Children

Keeping Street-Connected Children Safe

On April 12, organisations around the world will be celebrating International Day for Street Children: a special day acknowledging the strength and resilience of millions of street-connected children around the world. This year, our theme focuses on what makes street-connected children feel safe or unsafe, and what governments and communities can do to ensure that street children are protected from harm.

International Day for Street Children has been celebrated globally since 2012, to recognise the humanity, dignity and defiance of street children in the face of unimaginable hardships. We want to rally governments and individuals worldwide to work together to ensure their rights are protected no matter who they are and where they live.

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.”

This is why, every year on 12th April we celebrate the lives of street children and highlight the efforts to have their rights respected and their needs met in a caring and respectful manner.

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.