An international conference for street children’s rights ran alongside the football at the Deloitte 2010 Street Child World Cup. 100 former street children drew up a declaration and call to action that was presented to UN Committee on Human Rights along with Governments of participating countries.
“The government don’t do anything for children on the street, they don’t even think about them. When they see those children they do not even make a case for them. They should take them by the hand and say: I am going to support you, I am going to help you, you are not alone. But no – they look at them as they would anything else, like any other rubbish.”
Governments and society need to listen to street children to understand;
– Why they are on the streets and what their right to a home means to them
– How to end the abuse they experience and realise their right to protection
– How to develop services and realise their right to education and health care
“A house doesn’t give me advice, food, love or care – a family offers you this.”
Governments and society need to understand, “We do not want to stay on the streets. It is not a good thing for children to live on the street.”
These children spoke of leaving homes due to;
– Neglect, sexual abuse and violence at home (often connected with alcohol and substance misuse)
– Family breakdown and conflict
– Economic pressures, leading some children to seek to earn money on the streets
Most of these children wanted to return home, and felt that if families could be given more support children would not have to run away.
“When a child is beaten, nothing happens to the perpetrator.”
The children described incidents of violence and sexual abuse at home, on the streets (from gangs or members of the public), within institutions (including schools and orphanages), and from police and security guards. The children did not see the perpetrators of this abuse brought to justice.
Governments and society need to ensure that children can have confidence that they can report violence and abuse, and that steps will be taken to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.
“Police and legal systems do not work. [These street child] projects work well.”
The children spoke of how organisations in which they were involved had enabled them to leave the streets, access education and healthcare, and stop substance misuse. These organisations took the time to understand why they were on the streets and the barriers and prejudice which prevented them from accessing services. They listened to the children in understanding that they wanted to return home, but understood the difficulties involved in this process. These organisations also understood the importance of sports and art programmes to the children.
“When I’m playing football, I don’t think of those bad things that happened to me.”
Government and society need to work together to understand why children do not access services, to ensure that investment is targeted toward those services that work, and to safeguard children’s rights.
“No child should have to live on the streets. I commend the Street Child World Cup for providing a platform for the rights of street children to be heard.”
“It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of the Street Child World Cup at Downing Street. It gives children a voice through football, sales a platform to express their rights and celebrate their abilities – I’m proud to add my support.”
“When ever people come across me they laugh. It seems like my mouth is zipped because they talk for us. I wish they could give us a chance to talk for ourselves.”