Key words and phrases used on the Legal Atlas.
Begging / Panhandling – asking for donations of food, money or other items (sometimes called “alms”) from the public.
Commercial sexual exploitation – being forced into sexual activity for money. Examples of commercial sexual exploitation include child prostitution and child pornography.
Curfew – an order for people to remain indoors for a specific time period, often at night.
General Comment – a United Nations document which explains what specific human rights in a treaty mean and gives guidance to States on what they should be doing to put the treaty into practice.General Comment on Children in Street Situations – the UN’s legal guidance on street children. This document explains what countries should do in order to protect the human rights of street children. You can read the General Comment here.
Loitering – being in a public place for some length of time without having any clear purpose for being there.
Moral offences – actions which are not harmful but which are criminalised because society views them as sinful, offensive or disgusting. One example is consensual sex outside of marriage.
Police round-ups – also known as street sweeps, round-ups occur when street children are forcibly removed from the streets by the police, often in an attempt to make cities “presentable” before major public events. Children who are rounded up are often detained in prisons or transported away from city centres and abandoned.
Retroactive birth registration document – a document, such as a birth certificate, that registers the birth of a person because they were not formally registered when they were first born. This may also be known as “late registration”.
Status offences – criminal or civil law offences which discriminate against street children either because of their age or because of their street-connected status.
Street children – children who depend on the streets to live and/or work, whether alone or with friends and family, as well as children who feel that the streets are an important part of their life and identity.
Street-connected children / Children in street situations / Homeless youth – these terms have the same meaning as “street children”. Some prefer to use these terms because they reflect the fact that children can have many different reasons for spending time on the street (“street connections”) and do not necessarily live on the street. Some prefer to use the term ‘youth’ to reflect the increased maturity of older children, e.g. 16-17 year olds.
Truancy – when a child misses school without permission to do so.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – an international human rights treaty which sets out the specific rights that children have. You can read it here.
Vagrancy – being homeless and unemployed.