Playing Street Children and Child Labor

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Makassar is the largest city in Sulawesi. Many from poor surrounding villages come here to try their luck. Yet only few fair well and the unlucky ones become members of the ever-increasing marginalized group of individuals eking out a subsistence living as they can on the streets. It is the children who bear the brunt of their family’s precarious situation as they are required to make a contribution to meet the family’s needs. With no real skills, no education, the children wander the streets begging or doing any odd job to get money. Since 1997, when an economic crisis began in Indonesia, the number of children on the streets has increased.

A street child is any child that works and/or lives on the street. Often highly mobile, street children can alternate between living on the streets and living with their families. Children who work on the street may become involved in scavenging, begging, hawking, prostitution or theft to aid their basic survival.

Some of the streets children congregate at the rubbish dump, scavenging for scraps. Most have dropped out of school to work in construction site or as becak drivers.

Some may only work on the streets during particular periods of the year, and attend school at other times. This makes it extremely difficult to estimate the total number of street children. There are, however, relatively fewer children who actually live on the street compared with those who use it as a means to earn a living.

The term “anak jalanan” (street children) was once a taboo word in Indonesia –considered “subversive”, or anti-development in 1980s but is now accepted. All children who live outside their homes and do economic activities in the street are now called street children. With this definition, children forced into prostitution and working children can also be called street children. Even some teenagers hanging out in the street are sometimes called street children. Street children’s own terms include: “gembel” (‘vagrant’);“glanet” (‘a well dressed vagrant’); “tikyan” (‘a little but enough’); “rendan” for female street children.

90% of total street children were boys according to 1995 research. Popular images of street children portray them as vulnerable to abuse, at risk of poor health, exploited by older children or adults, and in some cases, at risk from vigilantes. Additionally, there is a tendency to view street children as criminals, victims, or as free spirits. Whatever the reality, when working to improve the lives of street children, it is essential to work together with them to understand the reasons why they are on the streets or why they are at risk of finding themselves there.

Every child has a right to grow up in a nurturing environment where they can realize their full potential. The street, with the risks it poses, is not such an environment.


Historically speaking...

the use of children for labor-reasons is not at all new or alarming to me.  One quick review of American History taught me  just how profitable it is to use children as an out-sourcing of money.

in 1619, the British government shipped 100 'vagrant' street-kids to Virginia to help "fix" the labor shortage.   This was deemed a success, and the rest became child-migration history.

The question in not, "What can be done about all these children on the street?"  The question is, "Where do we begin teaching people, a government can't abandon it's people because of greed?"


Pound Pup Legacy