Street children in the Philippines

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According to a 1998 report titled "Situation of the Youth in the Philippines", there were about 1.5 million street children in the Philippines.[1][not in citation given]

Statistics[edit]

The approximate numbers of street children in the different districts[clarification needed] of the Philippines are: Manila (3,266), Quezon (2,867), Caloocan (1,530), and Pasay (1,420). Regional numbers are:

  • Luzon regional totals: 1,557 (highly visible), 22,728 (estimated total)
  • Visayas regional totals: 5,291 (highly visible), 40,860 (estimated total) and
  • Mindanao regional totals: 22,556 (highly visible), 138,328 (estimated total).

Approximately 70% of the children are boys.

Defining Filipino street children[edit]

According to the "A Better Life" foundation, there are three different categories of street children:

  • Children on the streets make up approximately 75% of the street children in the Philippines. They work on the streets but do not live there. They generally have a home to return to after working, and some even continue to attend school while working long hours on the streets.
  • Children of the street make their homes on the street. They make up 25%-30% of the street children in the Philippines. They often create a sort of family with their fellow street children. Some of them still have family ties, but do not visit them and some even see these ties as bad.
  • Completely abandoned children have no family ties and are entirely on their own for physical and psychological survival. They make up approximately 5%-10% of the street children in the Philippines.[2][3]

Problems facing street children[edit]

Drugs[edit]

The most common substances are inhalants, such as solvents, rugby (a toluene-based glue) and cough syrups, followed by marijuana and shabu. Marijuana and shabu in particular are shared with friends whenever one of the group has enough money to buy them. Some street children take drugs as often as once a day.[2]

Health problems[edit]

Street children are generally thin, untidy, undernourished, and hardly equipped to survive the hazards of everyday living and working on the streets. Some of the hazards they face include sickness, physical injuries from motor accidents, street fights, harassment from extortionists and police, sexual exploitation by pedophiles and pimps, exposure to substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.[2]

Summary execution of street children[edit]

Many street children were in danger of summary execution during the Marcos Government.[4] In Davao City, 39 children in conflict with the law have been killed by vigilante groups since 2001. Most were killed after being released from police detention cells.[5]

Human rights groups said the killings have become an unwritten government policy to deal with crime, largely because of an ineffective criminal justice system and the tendency of the authorities to take shortcuts in the administration of justice. The execution-style killings are openly endorsed by local officials, strengthening the long-running suspicion that the death squads were formed by the government.[6]

Child prostitution[edit]

Child prostitutes are used by foreign sex tourists and pedophiles, as well as local people. Many street children are lured into prostitution as a means of survival, while others do it to earn money for their families. A variety of different factors contribute to the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines.[7][further explanation needed]

Rooted in poverty, as elsewhere, the problem of child prostitution in Angeles was exacerbated in the 1980s by Clark Air Base, where bars employed children who ended up as sex workers for American soldiers.[8] Street children are at particular risk because many of the 200 brothels in Angeles offer children for sex.[9] According to 1996 statistics of the Philippine Resource Network, 60,000 of the 1.5 million street children in the Philippines were prostituted.[10]

Sexual exploitation[edit]

Angeles Police had to rescue 36 children as young as six from Fields Avenue. Myrna Latorre, Chief of the Women's and Children's Section of the Angeles Police, said that the rescued children were brought to the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD), and that most of them were sent to the Bahay Bata Center, an institution taking care of orphans and abused children. The rest, she said, were taken to Haven, a government rehabilitation center in Magalang, Pampanga, run by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).[11] A 13-year-old child was trafficked into a brothel in Angeles where she had to service up to 15 individuals every night. [12]

HIV/AIDS and STDs[edit]

There is no HIV testing for children in the Philippines, but approximately 18% of the street children contract sexually transmitted infections (STIs).[7]

NGO'S AND Projects To Help[edit]

Various organizations have established charities and shelters, providing counseling, food, clothing and religious instruction in an attempt to help street children. These include Street Contact For Children,[3] Subic Bay Children's Home,[13] LifeChild,[14] Spirit and Life Mission House, and Tiwala Kids and Communities ,[15] Batang Pinangga Foundation, Inc (Cebu)[16]Jireh Children's Home, [17]He Cares Foundation[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]