| Many children
live on the street in cities like Rio de Janeiro. For
some, the streets are a workplace to earn money supporting
the rest of the family. For others, the streets are their
home, day and night.
The Global Picture
Brazil is not the only country where children live on the
street. According to Action International, there may be 100
million street children worldwide. Find out about the numbers
of young homeless people elsewhere by rolling your cursor
over the map.
A Poor Start
has a different story to explain why they live on the streets
but poverty is a common cause. Many poorer children have to
earn money from an early age. Working days for these children
are long, and home may be too far away, especially when they
don't have the money to catch a bus. As a result, many return
home only on weekends, and spend the other nights sleeping
|How is this boy
earning a living?
But like many homeless
young people in the UK, other street children have no home
at all. Extreme poverty puts great stress on family life and
most have run away from home because of a family breakdown,
domestic violence or abuse. A growing number have become orphans
because of AIDS.
have to learn to fend for themselves, but life can be difficult
and dangerous. If they can't make enough money, children may
have to search for food in garbage bins or beg from passers
by. Without a proper diet and sleeping in unsanitary places,
street children are more vulnerable to food poisoning, infections
from parasites and other health problems.
Some find themselves
on the wrong side of the law. Older children are often approached
to become street dealers of drugs like crack. About 500,000
girls are forced into prostitution as a way of earning a living
in Brazilian cities. Sexual activity amongst street children
is often unprotected, and a growing number are at risk of
catching sexually transmitted infections. Doctors claim that
there may be two thousand street children who are HIV positive
in Rio alone.
Meanwhile, some children
are murdered by vigilante groups. For the vigilantes, they
are merely "cleaning the streets". They see street
children as a menace, giving the city a bad name and putting
off investors. Sometimes, corrupt police officers join the
'death squads' to top up their low salaries. When military
police gunned down eight street children sleeping on the steps
of Candelària Cathedral in downtown Rio in 1993, it
made the headlines across the world. Yet Amnesty International
estimate that more than 90% of these murders go unpunished.
©Bill Gentile/Rex Features
have the right to be properly cared for and protected
from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents or anyone
who looks after them".
Article 19, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Go to www.unicef.org/crc/crc.htm
for the whole Convention.
Like all children, street
children have rights. Pretending they don't exist is not the
solution. Instead, street children need help in finding safe
and legal ways of looking after themselves, and advice on
how to make the right choices in areas that matter to them,
like drug abuse and sexual health.
Click on the icons to
find out about two projects that help Rio's street children:
The Abandoned Street
Kids of Brazil is a small UK-based charity that has its own
projects to help street children in Rio. Visit www.taskbrasil.org.uk
to find out more, including ways in which you can get involved.
Check out www.sln.org.uk/geography/brazil/Homeless.html
for more information and ten more images of homeless people
Without improvements in the conditions of Rio's favelas,
more children may find themselves living on the street.
Go to the next page to
find out about some of the ways in which the quality of life
in Rio's favelas
is being improved.