What cause them to go to the streets?
as a result of the socioeconomic and political conditions in the
late 1980s, is frequently cited as the leading cause of the exploitation
of children. The children come from very poor families most of
them are forced to stop going to school and they go instead to
the streets to earn. However going beyond poverty, the breakdown
of traditional family and community values and structures serves
as a major factor in the increase of children on the streets.
Symptoms of such breakdown include the neglect and abuse of children,
dysfunctional parents who could not adequately care for their
children, lack of support from the traditional extended family
system, abuse of drugs by the parents themselves and/or by other
members of the family, domestic violence, lack of employment opportunities,
lack of access to basic services in the community, congestion
in slum areas, deterioration of values permitting exploitation
of children, and finally break-up of families.
Who are the Filipino street children?
the Philippines, there are three different categories of street
children: children on the streets, children of the streets and
completely abandoned children.
Children on the streets are those who work on the street but do
not live there. They make up about 70%-75% of the street children
in the Philippines. Although some of them have stopped school
altogether and work full-time in the streets, many still go to
school and work long hours before or after their classes. At the
end of each working day, they return home.
Children of the street on the other hand are those who live and
work on the streets. They make up 25%-30% of the street children
in the Philippines. This group of children sees the streets as
their home and from where they seek income, food and shelter.
They recreate a sort of family among their companions. They may
have some family connections but they regard these ties as bad
and rarely visit their families.
Completely abandoned and neglected children are those who are
entirely on their own for physical and psychological survival.
They make up about 5%-10% of the street children in the Philippines.
They are the true children of the streets.
to the situation in other parts of the world, there are more male
than female street children in the Philippines, ranging from 56%
to 90% boys. Although their ages range from 5-18 years old, most
of them are 11-14 years of age.
come from large families, they are rarely experience love and
caring at home. Many have been maltreated by their parents or
relatives. A majority of the children have reached the elementary
school level of education, but only a small percentage actually
completed grade school. As high as 40% among the females have
not gone to school at all. This suggests a traditional cultural
bias in favor of boys when it comes to education. About 50%-70%
of the children come from the rural areas and many of them migrate
to the cities with their families is search for better work.
Break With Parental Attachments
who come to the cities on their own cite neglect and or abuse
at home, death or separation of parents, search for a lost kin
or relative as the main reasons for leaving home.
History of Caretakers
parents of the street children generally have low levels of education
and are employed as unskilled or semi-skilled workers, thereby
generating low income that is often not sufficient to meet basic
Kinds of Work Street Children Engage in on the Streets
children work in the streets from 6 to 14 hours a day. Their most
common jobs include vending, cleaning and washing cars, begging,
carrying heavy bags and baskets as baggage boys, drug trafficking
and prostitution. A street child can do a variety of jobs like
scavenging in the morning, washing a car in the afternoon and
begging in the evening. The average income of a street child is
about twelve to twenty-five pesos (or roughly twenty-five
to fifty cents to one US dollar) a day. A large portion of these
earnings is spent for food and school and a part goes to the family.
How They Spend Their Free Time
the children are not working, they try to catch up with childhood
by playing, or resting and sleeping, watching movies, gambling
and in some cases abusing substances.
Drugs They Commonly Take
most common substances are inhalants, like solvent/rugby and cough
syrups, followed by marijuana and shabu. Marijuana and shabu in
particular are drugs that are shared with friends whenever one “barkada”
member is lucky enough to have money to buy them. Moreover, many
street children take more drugs more than once, some as often as a
daily intake of solvent/rugby.
Health Problems and Hazards
street children are thin, untidy, and undernourished, hardly equipped
to survive the hazards of everyday living and working on the streets.
Some of the hazards they face include sickness, physical injuries
from vehicular accidents, street fights, harassment from both
extortionists and police, sexual exploitation by pedophiles and
pimps, exposure to substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.
survive the hazards of the streets, street children usually join
groups called “barkadas” that they see as a source of support
and protection. They become even more rooted in the subculture of
the streets where they get introduced to activities like
pickpocket, theft, prostitution, drug trafficking and drug abuse.
How They Perceive The World
children generally express a negative view of the world. They
see it as sad, cruel, not nourishing, difficult hostile and full
How They Cope With Their Problems
children approach their problems with some kind of escape or denial.
It is their way of coping with their overwhelming difficulties
and hardships as street children.
children experience feelings of sadness and loneliness. Victims
of sexual abuse feel the deepest kind of sadness, characterized
by despair, hurt, being unloved and abandoned, ruined, confused
and helpless. Substance abusers sadness is characterized by a
feeling of isolation with hostility and deep anger. Children in
conflict with the law is characterized by a longing for love and
intimacy but also with anger and intense aggression followed by
regret and remorse.
What They Often Think About
majority of street children are preoccupied with thoughts about
their parents and family.
Their Perceptions Towards Family and Peers
children view their family as “magulo” [chaotic] and broken.
All have great longing for caring parents and family unity. On the
other hand, all view their peers positively, as good, helpful and
a source of support and happiness.
How They View Themselves
have a negative self-concept. They all want to be good and to
have others see them as being good.
Wishes and Ambitions
all wish for family unity and togetherness and a chance to finish
their studies. They aspire to go back to school, to strive and
be patient and have the desire to change.
is important to emphasize the longer the child has been in the
streets, the beginning erosion of conscience and values. All seem
to see God as one who can help them, thus revealing their faith
and sense of hope. In this respect the children pray to be reunited
with their families and forgiveness.