Street Children in Tanzania
Constantine’s research practicum concerns street children in the Kasulu district of Tanzania and the factors that propel children onto the streets. A street child is defined as any girl or boy who has not yet reached adulthood, for whom the street, unoccupied dwellings, and wastelands, has become his or her source of livelihood and who is inadequately directed, supervised, or protected by responsible adults. Constantine sites abject poverty as the underlying cause forcing children onto the streets, which is often worsened by the death of one or both parents, abuse at home, and the need for the child to contribute to the family income. Using focus group discussions and questionnaires distributed to health workers, social workers, teachers, farmers, students, and community leaders, Constantine discovered that contraction of HIV/AIDS, children abandonment, domestic violence, alcoholism, single parenting, family separation, and dropping out of school, irresponsible families, and verbal, sexual, and physical abuse cause children to turn to the streets. Of these factors, death of parents, domestic violence, and household poverty were the top contributors. Often parents of street children succumb to HIV/AIDS, and more often than not, children have contracted the disease themselves. In order to positively affect the situation of street children in Tanzania, Constantine recommends promoting community sensitization, in which individuals in the community are motivated to protect children and their rights. In addition, she recommends instigating self-help Groups so that peers may share their stories and positively motivate each other, forming committees that influence policy concerning the rights of children, training self-help group members on effective and safe income generating activities, and incorporating women into the self-help Group structure as positive forces influencing a child’s human development.