Dr Jai Singh Yadav
SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND STREET
Street children are defined
as the children less than 18 year male or female who spend more time outside
their home or in street, due to inadequate space of home and care. They mainly
leave with lack of supervision, protection, guidance and scarcity of resource.
They have minimal contact with their family, which make them more vulnerable
physically as well as psychologically. The behaviors of street children not
shaped because they devoid of education and care of their parents. The major
threat of children defined 1 that when child involves in collection
of thinks from garbage , has no permanent place to sleep, sleep in street
,escape from institution, bad/ delinquent behavior with guardians, less than 7
year of age, child has mental or psychological disorder, connection with
prostitution, gambling or drugs. UNICEF estimated 100 million children were
growing up on urban streets around the world, in India it was estimated 11
million1. The Indian Embassy has estimated that there are about
314,700 street children in metros such as Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Kanpur,
Bangalore and Hyderabad, around 100,000 in Delhi alone. The legal definition
2 of street children is the children affected by passive social look,
exposure to delinquency on the basis of types of activities which include
begging, street show, selling trivial items or other activities which is not
considered positive resources for living. These children generally adapt their
behaviour according to their needs and external environment. Child law2
considers child at risk, if his safety, moral, health or life is endangered and
child exposed to deviance, whether through exposure to drugs, alcoholism,
violence or prostitution. Outside the street these children depend on their
general needs on society and they provoke these by small jab, labour work,
There were many studies
3-4 reported that street children have multiple problems, in a survey
among 100 street children at the New Delhi Railway Station in India revealed
that 86% of boys in the age group 14 - 18 years were sexually active; however a
very low number of them knew about safe sex protection and condom usage, none of
them reported having ever used a condom. 65.9% of the street children lived with
their families on the streets. Out of these children, 51.84% slept on the
footpaths, 17.48% slept in night shelters and 30.67% slept in other places
including under flyovers and bridges, railway platforms, bus stops, parks,
market places. The overall incidence of physical abuse among street children,
either by family members or by others or both, was 66.8% across the states. Out
of this, 54.62% were boys and 45.38% were girls. On a study4 in
India, 17.73% Female Street children forced to touch private parts of others
body, 22.77% reported having been sexually assaulted. In other study 5
the most common substances used in street children were Gutkha (91.7%), powdered
tobacco (71.1%), tobacco toothpaste (63.8%), smoking (26.6%), and alcohol
(14.7%). The substance abusers used multiple substances (3.34 substances abused
per adolescent). Synthetic narcotics and LSD were not used by any of the
abusers. Adolescents in joint families were consuming significantly higher
amounts (47.3%) as compared with their counterparts in nuclear families (38.1%).
Of 163 street boys, in Mumbai 6 132 (80.98%) were substance abusers;
52 (31.9%) had been sexually abused and 87 (53.3%) had been physically abused.
The most common reasons for substance abuse or the perceived functions of
substance use mentioned by participants were peer pressure (62.1%),
experimentation (36.3%) or to boost self-confidence (28.7%). Almost
three-quarters (70 %) of all substance users wanted to quit and about 40% had
tried to quit.
There are many reasons when
street children start taking substances 7, 70% start due to street
environment, 60% in peer presser, 50% for sleep easily, 30% for able to endure
pain, violence and hunger. The majorities of these children had faced harassment
or abuse (93%) by police and other street children and were sexually experience
(67%). Among the sexually active 15-17-year-olds, most reported multiple
partners (54%) and never using condoms (52%). In street children overlaps of HIV
are at highest risk, manly in male children those have sex with other children,
commercial sex workers, and injection drug users.
In study 8 of
Lahore reported 40% of children having ever exchanged sex for shelter, food or
entertainment than for drugs (13.5%) or money (16.7%). The Indian study 9
reported prevalence of sexually abused among non tobacco substance user was 30%.
Seroprevalence of HIV was found to be 1% and STIs was 4%. The WHO formulated
objectives 10 for prevention of risk factors in street children with
substance abuses are
a) The identification of and
collaboration with appropriate agencies, which work with street children in the
communities being targeted, for the implementation of the project.
b) The establishment of a
community advisory committee at each site with representation from services
which work with or are in contact with street children, local welfare and other
agencies involved in emergency relief, housing, education and vocational
training; for local medical and other health care services; the criminal and/or
juvenile justice system; the local community including the business sector; and
street children themselves.
c) The development of a
mechanism for establishing representative focus groups of street children and a
structure within which these groups may be conducted.
d) The development of a
strategic plan for the coordination of activities (including prevention,
treatment and rehabilitation) directed at improving the health (in its broadest
sense) and welfare of the local population of street children.
e) The formal or informal
engagement of an appropriate local medical service, by the local organization,
to provide primary medical care to the population of street children.
f) The development of an
advocacy role for the community advisory committee with the purpose of:
attitudes towards and understanding of the problem, recognizing and tapping into
sources of funding and other resources, reducing discrimination against street
children influencing government policy and practice at all levels and
identifying obstacles to change.
g) The development and
utilization of operational research methods, as far as possible, to test the
alternative methodologies of intervention.
h) The development and
utilization of empowerment methodologies by local organizations where
In a seminar of UNICEF
11 on” street a working children” recommended following points.
a) Searching of invisible
children working in agriculture, small industries, and commercial prostitution,
domestic and business work.
b) Multi disciplinary, multi
sector approaches in informs of public sensitization,
advocacy, legislation, monitoring and evaluations.
c) Activities not should
confine only up to children but in should be broaded up to their family,
community, state, nation and international level.
In summary we find that
street children are more venerable for trafficking, substance use, prostitution,
rape, STDs and other health problems. They need specific guideline, legislation,
participation of various agencies, communities, states, nations and whole
countries to overcome these problems.
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