The data was collected using an unstructured interview guide in the Urdu language to avoid language barriers. The main areas of focus in the data collection tool were demographic details of the street children, their family and social backgrounds, and the high-risk practices in which they are involved. Each interview took around 1—1. The interviews were audio taped wherever permission was granted.
Poverty and social safety nets: a case study of Pakistan - Munich Personal RePEc Archive
The audiotapes were transcribed within four days of the initial interview. Key themes were identified and discussed after manual thematic content analysis was conducted. Obtaining informed consent from children is a controversial subject, and when these children are unsupervised and without any guardians, such as in the case of street children, the vulnerability factor and ethical ambiguity rise even further.
There are no set protocols regarding this issue, and international literature provides little clear guidance. Modern research ethics are based on principles which usually safeguard the interests of the participants, yet these laws do not signify the ultimate truth and, based on the research circumstances, are liable to change. The most significant ethical considerations that guided us through this study were beneficence and non-maleficence. The idea of the risk-benefit ratio and the intent of disseminating information about this vulnerable group guided us throughout the course of this study.
We see these children everyday, yet we fail to play our part to bring them into a normal and socially productive life with ambitions and dreams. We felt that being researchers, the least we could do was discuss the problems faced by this group on an academic platform. The remaining eight consented after extensive explanation of the research process. For the children who had family contact, our first aim was to obtain verbal informed consent from a parent or caregiver.
In cases where this was not possible, informed consent was sought from the participants themselves. Great care was taken to include only those children who consented and we took the information part of the informed consent very seriously. All children were repeatedly explained the purpose and methods of the study. Great care was taken to exclude those children who either failed to understand the purpose of the study or did not consent to the study.
The present study is a qualitative research paper, in which data was collected using in-depth interviews conducted with 19 children. We initially approached 31 individuals. Out of these, 19 gave informed consent after being clearly explained the purpose of the study. The mean age of the respondents was Out of the 19 respondents, six had exposure to formal schooling at the very basic levels, while 13 had never attended school. Average time spent on the streets was 7. Most of the respondents had been exposed to life on the streets in their early years.
The mean age of initiation of street life was 6. Most respondents maintained family contact and were pushed onto the streets due to financial circumstances. We are five siblings and our father passed away when I was three years old. Our eldest brother, who was 12 at the time, left school and started working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. We want to go to school like other children, but going to school means that I would stop making money and will have to spend money on books and fees.
The people in the house were nice but the other servants, especially their driver, used to beat me up a lot, so I ran away and went back to my father, who took me back because he said he had taken money from the people I worked for. I had no other option but to run away. All of our respondents had large families, with a mean number of siblings 7.
Pakistan has always had issues with family planning due to various socio-cultural barriers. People believe that having lots of children is somehow a sign of a successful life even if caring for these children gets out of control. These large family sizes eventually have a toll on the children who are forced to drop out of schools and work on the streets.
But when my father became ill, one of my brothers and a sister had to join me. The poverty-disease cycle clearly pointed to the flimsy equilibrium which exists between socio-economic statuses and the health of individuals, with the eventual burden materializing firstly on specific families, and then on communities in general. Almost all of the study participants had some sort of health-related event in their families in the past that has affected their present and their future.
The two youngest siblings still go to school but the rest of us have to work. During the course of this study, it was observed that two basic ideologies originated as a result of experiencing the disruption of a normal family life due to various diseases involving the parents. Some respondents developed a fear of illness and saw a dark future based on their increased exposure. My father died because of tuberculosis when we were very young; in his last few days he often called me and told me important things. One day he told me to work hard and make lots of money because poor people die early.
Some study participants had seen their parents ill or dying, and as a consequence had developed a rebellious and carefree attitude. Just last week, I got an electric shock from a live wire; it hurt a lot but look I am still alive. I cannot die till God wants me to, so why be afraid of anything?
When asked the about the reasons for working on the streets, all respondents enumerated a multitude of conditions at home, where various health-related events had forced them to work on the streets. He is bedridden now and cannot work. My younger brother is sick most of the time and cannot go to school.
Our mother has to stay home and take care of them; that is why she lost her job as a washing lady. Now I work in a dhabba roadside restaurant.
I make around — rupees USD 1. Low literacy levels in developing countries when amalgamated with a lack of occupational opportunities create a complex situation where education alone has limited power over socio-economic tribulations. Life is tough and you have to be smart to survive. Now I know nothing besides blowing up and selling balloons.
Do you think I can go to school at this age? The importance of vocational skills is tremendous, as skills provide better occupational opportunities for earning a more stable livelihood. I also have to make money for my family. I think schools should teach us how to do different things, instead of just teaching us how to read and write. We asked our study respondents to tell us three things that they like and three things that they dislike about both street life, and life at home and school.
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We conducted two key informant interviews with adult men who were ex-street children, in order to gather information regarding the ethically sensitive issues of sexual abuse and drug addiction. Street children are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation because they are unsupervised. They are exposed to the dangers of the untamed urban culture of the developing world, where the poor implementation of laws, scarcity of resources, and meager literacy and awareness levels create the perfect recipe for child rights violations.
Child molestation, nevertheless, cannot be attributed to a certain socio-economic or ethnic stratification.
But the children on the streets have developed their own protective mechanisms; we look out for each other with the older ones in the groups keeping an eye on the younger ones. Once a boy from our group was kidnapped in a big white car. I noted the registration number and took the police to the address. We caught the man red-handed and the police took him away. Substance abuse is another serious issue.
Most children develop the habit of smoking at an early stage due to peer pressure or for acceptability.
A common abusive substance is Samad Bond, a locally manufactured glue that is also used for volatile substance abuse. Living on the streets is hard; sniffing glue makes you forget all your hardships. I used to sniff glue but when my friend got sick and died because of it, I stopped. In most cases, poverty is a well-documented and plausible etiological feature in the initiation of street life of street children, along with an array of complex causes mostly prevalent in an urban environment [ 15 ]. Simultaneously, poverty itself does not occur in solitude and is further enhanced by diseases and their consequences.
The poverty-disease cycle provides a clearer understanding of the issue, and how poverty originates and escalates in the presence of various debilitating illnesses [ 16 ]. We intend to take this academic debate further by linking the issue of street children with the poverty-disease cycle [ 15 ].
The circumstances that force children to spend their lives on the streets are always governed by obligations rather than choices [ 17 ]. Street children are not only deprived of their basic child rights but are additionally exposed to an array of hazards and risks that other children are protected from [ 18 ]. The socio-economic makeup of the homes that children leave behind to work on the streets is usually governed by poverty and disease [ 15 ], and this iterative relationship escalates with the passage of time based on the reciprocal liaison between these two factors.
In order to elaborate this further, we have developed a framework for explaining this association.
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In the light of our findings, we developed the idea that in most cases, if not all, the major factors that push children on the streets are governed my morbidity or mortality at home. The death or illness of family members have both short-term and long-term implications, and the financial onslaught of diseases force children to develop an income-generating role instead of simply enjoying their childhood [ 19 ]. Another important aspect is the increased exposure to diseases of street children because of their altered social role.source
The World Bank In Pakistan
These children are exposed to infectious and non-infectious wastes during scavenging; they are also open to the elements of substance and sexual abuse [ 20 ]. Poor nutrition and exposure to environmental pollution also have long-term implications. Finally, violence in their daily life is a risk that always accompanies this ignored social group. Lack of financial, physical, and social accessibly to healthcare, as well as complicated health-seeking behaviors when added to the aforementioned problems, develop into a complex mix of circumstances which push these children further away from mainstream society [ 21 ].
Street children are an everyday sight in almost all urban centers of the world, but in developing countries, the issue attains greater gravity based on the limited support these children get and the scarcity of resources.