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 found at hotel given permanent shelter

A hotel owner from Jharkhand called 1098 to inform about two children who had come to his hotel in search of work. The caller also informed CHILDLINE that the children’s father had passed away, and their mother was accused of trafficking and sent to jail. The CHILDLINE team along with the Police went to the spot and met the hotel owner. The team and the police authorities learned that both the children were staying at the hotel as they had no other place to stay. The CHILDLINE team took the children from the hotel and later they were produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). As per the CWC's order, both children were provided with permanent shelter.

(*Name and details changed to protect the child)