Homeless children – 05 Mar 2023

There are 1.5 million street children in Pakistan and the number is rapidly rising

In 2022, the National Commission on the Rights of Child revealed that there are 1.5 million street children in Pakistan and the number is rapidly rising. The phenomenon of homeless or street children is a consequence of social neglect. These children spend their time out of their homes and schools in unsafe conditions. In a bid to protect homeless children and enhance their prospects, the Punjab police have signed an MoU with four government and private institutions working for the rights and welfare of children.

Most street children receive insufficient nutrition and water and lack medical care. They become easy prey for exploitation by beggar mafias, human and drug traffickers, and other wayward elements. Early exposure to violence and abuse affects their overall growth and development. The majority of these children fall into drug abuse and other criminal activities. They remain trapped in poverty and deprivation. Under the rehabilitation programme, orphan girls will be taken to SOS village and other homeless children will be referred to the child protection bureau. Children involved in begging will be brought to schools of the Care Foundation and justice will be sought for crimes against children and children involved in crimes.

This is a commendable initiative as it aims to support children during their formative years, which shape their personalities and behaviours and ultimately impact societal development. The comprehensive nature of the programme has brought different institutions working for children’s welfare together allowing them to effectively address and potentially end the problems faced by homeless children. The Punjab police must lead by example by ensuring the success of this initiative to encourage other provincial police departments to undertake similar initiatives. We must realise that we cannot achieve prosperity or equality by neglecting the less fortunate. Homeless children should be allowed to become useful citizens and welcomed into mainstream society.

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