Street child is a term for a child experiencing homelessness and who primarily resides in the streets of a city (typically in a developing country). The exact definition of a street child is debatable due to the lack of precise categories. The term has largely been used in reference to children who live entirely in public spaces, without adult supervision or care. Street children are often subject to abuse, neglect, exploitation, or, in extreme cases, murder by "clean-up squads" that have been hired by local businesses or police. In Western societies, such children are commonly treated as homeless children, rather than criminals or solicitors.
The definition of "street children" is contested, but many practitioners and policymakers use UNICEF’s concept of boys and girls, aged under eighteen years, for whom "the street" (including unoccupied dwellings and wasteland) has become home and/or their source of livelihood, and who are inadequately protected or supervised (Black, 1993).
Street children can be found in a large majority of the world's cities, with the phenomenon more prevalent in densely-populated urban hubs of developing or economically unstable countries, such as India, China, Russia, and countries in Africa. According to a report from the Consortium for Street Children, a United Kingdom (UK)-based consortium of related NGOs, UNICEF estimated that 100 million children were growing up on urban streets around the world. Fourteen years later, UNICEF similarly reported, "The latest estimates put the numbers of these children as high as 100 million" (UNICEF, 2002: 37). More recently the organization added, "The exact number of street children is impossible to quantify, but the figure almost certainly runs into tens of millions across the world. It is likely that the numbers are increasing" (UNICEF, 2005: 40-41). The 100 million figure is still commonly cited, but has no basis in fact (see Ennew and Milne, 1989; Hecht, 1998; Green, 1998). Similarly, it...
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