International Day for Street Children 2019
Celebrating the Strength of Street Children Around the World
International Day for Street Children is a special day recognising the strength and resilience of millions of street children around the world. Celebrated globally since 2012, it is our opportunity to recognise their humanity, dignity and defiance 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. Join us in our quest to recognise the potential in every street child.
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’, ‘homeless children’ or ‘homeless youth’. Also – at times – they may be described in more negative terms such as ‘beggars’, ‘juvenile delinquents’, ‘thieves’ and all-round ‘bad kids’. 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.
“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, CEO, Consortium for Street Children.
IDSC 2019 – Commit to Equality
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:
- Commit to Equality
- Protect Every Child
- Provide Access to Services
- Create Specialised Solutions
In 2019, we concentrate on Step 1: Commit to Equality. We call on Governments to recognise that street children have the same rights as any other child – and to reflect that in law and policy.
Join us in calling for equality for street children under law.
Are street children equal under law?
Not only are street children among the most vulnerable children on the planet – deprived of basic needs like food and shelter and disproportionately targeted by violence – but they are also penalised in law for things they have to do to survive. So-called ‘status offences’ like loitering or begging, criminalise street children for being on the street and needing to survive.
Often street children get arrested – or ’rounded up’ – by police either to remove them from the streets in clean-up operations, or in well-meaning but misguided attempts to help them by putting them in orphanages or institutions.
It is a widely accepted principle that no-one should be deprived of their liberty without due process. Yet street children are denied this due process when they are forcibly moved into institutions against their will.
While street-connected children have the same rights as every other child, in practice, basic services like healthcare or education are denied to them due to obstacles such as not having any identification documents, not having a permanent address, or not being accompanied by an adult or a guardian.
CSC calls for street children to be issued free ID documents and asks governments to proactively remove obstacles preventing street children from accessing services they are entitled to.