Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

The Situation of Street Children in Selected Cities of South Sudan: Magnitude, Causes, and Effects

Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

The Situation of Street Children in Selected Cities of South Sudan: Magnitude, Causes, and Effects

Article excerpt

Abstract: Although international declarations upholding children's rights for survival and development were already enshrined in the domestic laws and policies of South Sudan, the reality on the ground appears to depict that scores of children in streets are as yet most marginalized and least investigated. The objectives of this study were to examine the magnitude, causes and effects of child streetism in six state capitals of South Sudan and suggest the way forward. Data on magnitude were collected using a Child Inventory Form. Then, a Child Questionnaire was administered to a sample of 756 street children. Findings indicated that child streetism was only emerging but growing at an alarming rate. The possible factors included war-induced displacement, family disruption, economic constraints, mistreatment at home, lack of access to education and child-related behavioural factors. Once in the street, children were also found exposed to a living arrangement deprived of parental supervision and support, disruption of developmentally-constructive routines, substance abuse and health concerns. In fact, the impacts were far from uniform and not all about "negatives".

Keywords: Child streetism, causes of child streetism, effects of child streetism, South Sudan

1. INTRODUCTION

Children are obviously the hope of a society and humanity. Through children, societies reproduce themselves, establish nexus with successive generations and thereby keep the wheel rolling. However, children are not people of tomorrow alone. They are still individuals in themselves with needs to be attended right at the present (Belay 2007).

These needs are so fundamental that they are considered, in more recent years and almost uniformly across the globe, as the rights of children and the responsibilities of nations. It is almost two and half decades since the UN has institutionalized these rights and responsibilities as a convention, "UN Convention on the Rights of the Child" (UN 1989). According to this Convention, all children of the world have, among others, the rights to survival and development, to be free from discrimination of all sorts, to be given priority in every decision affecting their life, and to take part in such decisions.

Ratifying this Convention, many member states have been taking different measures to fulfil the promises entered. These measures extend from paper (i.e. redressing existing or formulating new policies, laws, and programs) down to field work for promoting development of child-friendly environments.

Despite such encouraging efforts, the issue of "child right" is in its childhood and surprisingly among child-dominated nations, commonly called "developing countries". In the words of Knutsson (1994: xiii), "although many of us talk about bettering the human condition-what specialists refer to as 'development'-we are far removed from the very people to whom development matters the most". As a result, many children are still invisible and live under difficult circumstances. Difficulties meeting basic needs and vulnerability to abuse are still with strong hold, particularly in Africa today. The most vulnerable sections of this vulnerable segment of society, usually considered as the "poorest of the urban poor", are street children.

Globally, an estimated 100 million (Alianza 2000) to 150 million (Hutchison 2010) children live under difficult circumstances in the developing world of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The lion's share of this figure seems to go to the war-racked and poverty stricken regions of East Africa. For example, a relatively recent estimate indicates that the number of street children in Ethiopia ranges from 150,000 - 600,000 nationally (CSC 2009) while the figure in Kenya was estimated in 2007 to be 250,000 - 300,000 (IRIN 2007). In the neighbouring countries of South Sudan, the contribution appears even bigger.

As regards South Sudan, little documented evidence exists showing the situation of street children at large. …

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