The children

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Children living on the streets

© UNICEF/Romania009/Bivol
A child who lives and works on the streets

Unfortunately children living on the streets are deprived of most of their rights. From 2000-2005, the number of children working in the streets during the day increased while that of children living permanently in the streets dropped. It is likely that some 65-75% of all street children working in the street during the day live at home. It is estimated that less than 500 children lived permanently in the streets in Bucharest as of 2004, and less than 1,500 worked in the streets during the day, returning home to their families in the evenings, making a total of 2,000 street children in Romania’s capital.

The total number of children living permanently in the streets of Romania might be about 1,500. These children are also at risk of becoming victims of trafficking (both internationally and nationally), mostly for sexual exploitation, and for begging in the case of children with disabilities. The main reasons for trafficking continue to be the lure of western countries, the opportunity to contribute to the family income, and often to escape a hostile home environment.  Many working street children face health problems, including skin diseases, scabies, wounds and burns, some also have tuberculosis and hepatitis, while most display signs of chronic malnutrition.

Street children are also exposed to sexual abuse, often starting within their own family and then continuing on the street, and physical abuse, with about half of children working on the streets of Bucharest reporting that they have been beaten at least once, especially by the police. In coping with the harshness of their lives on the streets, many children turn to drugs or solvents, including common glue and paint thinners. Street children similarly continue to be discriminated against by the authorities, such as the police, at school, and by the health system. While many street children have never been to school, an even higher number are illiterate.



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