Homeless Children

Children without homes are a major issue in India more so in urban cities and towns. Many such children can be found in railway stations, near temples and dargahs, in markets, under bridges, near bus depots and stops among other places. These children lack a stable home or a shelter and some of them have no family ties. They are easy victims of abuse and inhuman treatment, and are often engaged in petty theft or prostitution for economic survival.

There are a number of factors that lead children to living on the street. One root cause that has been identified is poverty. Often, there are those kids who are runaways - having escaped abusive or dangerous environments or those who runaway from homes for better jobs in cities. Almost 50% of street children are self-employed as rag-pickers, hawkers and shoeshine boys, while others work in shops and establishments. Their work hours range between 10-13 hours a day. These children are exposed to high health hazards due to unhygienic living conditions and having no shelter they are also constantly exposed to environmental conditions of heat, cold and rain. Many homeless children living in public spaces also face harassment by municipal authorities and police.

Case Study

Two homeless children with mentally ill mother found at the railway station

In August 2018, during a regular platform outreach activity, the CHILDLINE India Foundation Railway team found a boy (5 years) and girl (3 years) accompanied by a lady at the platform behaving in a suspicious manner. After interacting with the lady, CHILDLINE India Foundation team realised that the lady is mentally unwell and she is the mother of those two children. She couldn’t tell the team about her native address or other details about herself or the children. The CHILDLINE India Foundation team realised that the children are homeless and their mother being mentally ill is incapable of looking after them. To ensure the children’s care and safety, the CHILDLINE India Foundation team took up the case and informed the matter to Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police. They also shared the case details to the Child Welfare Committee and Women Cell of the district. Later the children and their mother were shifted to a shelter home temporarily. A medical examination of the mother and children was carried out. Presently both the children are settled and have been admitted to the school for primary education in Calicut. Their mother is undergoing treatment at a Mental Health Centre and is on her way towards recovery. The CHILDLINE India Foundation team managed to give care and protection to the children found at the railway station.

(*Name and details changed to protect the child)