I frequently get asked what am I writing these days. Most of my research is focused on Church based reponse to street-living and working children. Here’s a glimpse of some discoveries that I hope in time will impact the lives of children and youth. The focus here is on why children turn to the street.
“Typically, most children do not just decide to go to the street one day and remain there. Most children, who either work or live on the street grow in their existence on the street rather than becoming instantaneously a street-living or working child. This was apparent in the children I talked with on the streets of Cochabamba, Bolivia as well. In other words, there is a progression which includes an introduction to earning money on the street, sleeping on the street, disregarding family ties (but certainly not always), drug abuse (in some cases), delinquent behavior, etc. Many who work with children on the street recognize this street lifestyle development process. In some cases one can witness this process in a very short period of time. While in Cochabamba I had the opportunity to visit with a boy named Jorge (age 12) on several occasions and have kept up with his status since leaving through my contact with the missionaries working with this young boy. Over a period of several weeks we witnessed as Jorge became more and more entrenched to this lifestyle on the street. We were told by him that he had only turned to the street after recently running away from a shelter. He originally turned to look for help in the shelter because of the abuse he received in the home of his uncle and aunt, whom he lived with. Over a period of several weeks we met informally (in group settings and individual conversations) with Jorge. During the meetings with him we noticed a progression that moved him toward a street lifestyle that included going from clean clothes to dirty ones, from being a non-clefa user to beginning the use of clefa. Street lifestyle development is a term that captures the progression that most children have in turning to the street. A key understanding that underscores the need for an early encounter methodology focuses on understanding the factors that are connected with the development of this lifestyle.”