Liton, a 12-year old boy sells betel leaves in a park and lives with his distant aunt and her son in a slum at city’s Tejgaon area.
His father is no more and his mother died when he was minor. He used to live with her grand-mother initially and then moved to his aunt, previously known to her late mother. His aunt, abandoned by her husband, earns her livelihood begging.
Like his aunt, Liton also begs along with selling betel leaves. His companion Roni is a nine year old boy, who lives in the same slum with his mother, crippled father and a four-year old sister. Roni’s father was a rickshaw puller and sustained injuries in a road accident that left his parents beg door to door.
Eight year old Moyna sells rejected flowers from Shahbagh area to the nearby campus. She stays with a floating family at the High court area. She lives with her grandmother and aunt following deaths of her parents died at her early age. Abandoned by their husbands, both her grandmother and aunt are beggars.
There are a large number of these kinds of street children, who earn their living by selling flowers, collected papers, chocolates and working in garages temporarily. These street children take up such professions at the instigation of their guardians.
Although Liton, Roni and Moyna seem to earn some money by selling flowers, water and collecting thrown away papers, their main earnings are from asking alms from the passerby.
They said that there are lots of children who are forced to join in this kinds of profession as no other opportunity are available to them and also that their parents are also engaged in this profession.
Sometimes they cannot find other jobs, as they have no identity to give to work in a shop or a garage. Even if they are employed, are often denied wages. All these reasons left them with no choice but to take up their parents’ profession – begging.
These children also adopt new techniques such as asking monetary help from the passerby in the name of treatment for their sick family members.
According to social scientists these children might fell prey to unsocial elements and they could involve them to destructive activities in future and they might become members of organised crimes as there is none to guide them to chose between right and wrong. When grown old they might also turn to criminals.
Society has also obligations towards these children, they said adding appropriate steps must be taken to protect these street children and proper measures should also be taken to rehabilitate them, so that the society cannot turn to a sanctuary for criminals.
Firstly their parents should see to it that their children do not go for begging and they should be sent to rehabilitation centres for their proper mental and physical growth. If necessary, the government should make it mandatory to enroll the street children into the rehabilitation centres.
Besides, the parents might be provided with employment who send their children to the centres. A massive publicity is needed to create awareness among the people to send the street children to the rehabilitation centres.
Secondly, adequate rehabilitation centres should be set up in the major cities of the country and the parents should be encouraged to send the street children to those centres.
Thirdly, the centres should have arrangements for providing vocational training to the street children, besides providing training to a particular vocation so that they could take up professions in the future.