Nilika Dutta


Street life is a challenge for survival, even for adults, and is yet more difficult for children. They live within the city but are unable to take advantage of the comforts of urban life. This study focused primarily on access to health and education in street children from 6 to 18 years old in the Indian metropolises of Mumbai and Kolkata. The study also aimed to assess the role of social work interventions in ensuring the rights of street children. A combination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies was used. Convenience sampling was used to recruit 100 children. Data were collected on a one-to-one basis through semi-structured interview schedules and by non-participant observation. Findings revealed that extreme poverty was the primary cause for the increasing numbers of street children. Lack of awareness among illiterate parents regarding educational opportunities kept most children away from school attendance. Factors such as lack of an educational ambience at home made it difficult for the children to work on their lessons outside the premises of the institution. It was evident that those living with their parents had better access to health care facilities than did those living on their own; however, nongovernmental organizations made significant efforts to redress this imbalance, setting up health check-up camps at regular intervals. Although exposure to harsh reality at an early age had resulted in a premature loss of innocence in most, making them sometimes difficult to work with, the nongovernmental organizations were striving to ensure child participation and the growth of individual identity. The interventionists therefore focused on developing a rights-based approach, rather than a charitable one.


street children, rights, social intervention, health, education, India

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International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies

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