Friday, April 22, 2011

International Day for Street Children: special report on street children in Glasgow and Delhi

For children who live on the streets, location is not important - whether in Delhi or Glasgow their existence is surprisingly similar. Gill Martin reports.

The cities of Delhi and Glasgow are worlds apart but share one disturbing reality: street children. The slums of India, captured in the award-winning 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, can’t compare with Scotland’s largest city. But for children who sleep rough and spend their waking hours on the streets, the risks are as critical.

Against a background of gang fights, knife crime and drink-fuelled violence endemic in Glasgow, 15-year-old Jessica (not her real name) is an easy target for abuse, exploitation and drugs. She has been so drunk on vodka bought with her pocket money she was incapable of keeping herself from danger.

“I had to have my stomach pumped once,” she admits, from drinking too much to blot out the misery of her home life, and as a cry for help. She was also running away from family and school on a regular basis. She is just one face behind a welter of statistics of a global problem that affects an estimated 100 million children.

Jessica drops into the Aberlour Running Other Choices (ROC) offices to sort out a place to stay the night. She is living with her sister under an interim court order, but the pair have argued. She fell out with her mother years ago. “I ran away when I was 14. Mum puts the men in her life over her children.”

Jessica stopped going to school at 12, preferring to hang out with her mates. “I was a bad lassie at school. They hated me because I was mean. I whacked a teacher with a chair when he pointed at me. (read more)