Young homeless underestimated by Britons, says survey
Published: 12th Apr 2012 00:36:09
The level of young homelessness in the UK is underestimated by over two-thirds (68%) of Britons, a survey suggests.
The research among 2,000 adults by the Consortium for Street Children (CSC) found that most people (61%) associated street children with Africa and Asia.
Fewer than one in 10 of those asked said they would feel compelled to help children sleeping rough.
CSC chief executive Sally Shire called on society to recognise that "being a street child is not a crime".
The survey found that four out of five people asked were not aware that an estimated 100,000 children become runaways in the UK every year.
Authorities should understand the reasons for street children's behaviour and provide support”
More than one in five (21%) would worry about crime if they saw young people sleeping rough.
Of those surveyed, 13% thought the issue of street children was a problem in western Europe.
The CSC is urging governments around the world to stand up for the rights of young homeless people.
Ms Shire said: "Across the globe there are large numbers of children surviving on the streets.
"Whether they are a runaway from Derby or a street child in Delhi the factors that drive children to the streets are similar.
"Being a street child is not a crime. We want governments and society to recognise this."
She added: "These children have the same rights as every other child. A recent United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights study into street children made a number of recommendations for how street children's rights can be strengthened.
"This includes universal birth registration for all, and that rather than treat street children as criminals authorities should understand the reasons for street children's behaviour and provide support."
The survey, conducted by OnePoll, was commissioned by the CSC to coincide with the International Day for Street Children.
Andy McCullough, head of UK policy and public affairs at the charity Railway Children, who grew up as a street child, said street children faced different forms of abuse and had "no legitimate rights to funds and benefits."
Most street children are either kicked out of their houses, experience domestic violence or fall out with their parents but have nowhere to go as they cannot claim housing benefits, he said.
Mr McCullough has spent many years working with street children and his experience has been that they become homeless in the long run.
"Street children are over-represented in the mental health system, the criminal justice system and there are clear correlations," he said.
Lack of funding is seen as one of the main problems facing projects involving street children.
Mr McCullough said: "If you want to work with the street children you have to go to the streets, the estates, the street corners.
"You can't expect them to reach out to you. Lots of the people working for street children try to do it from their desks."
The Department for Education said runaway children typically faced very complex issues.
A spokesman said: "Local authorities are responsible for targeted support for families with complex needs and young people at risk of substance misuse, youth crime and teenage pregnancies - which can be the root causes and consequences of running away.
"We are providing funding through the Early Intervention Grant which they can use to invest directly in services to safeguard vulnerable children and young people.
"And we are working with a range of charities and organisations to strengthen national support to help them do this."
Have you been affected by the issues raised in this story? Please share your experiences with us by filling in the form below.
If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions
At 19:00:25 in BusinessNational Grid is seeking additional electricity supplies for winter after unexpected plant shutdowns have raised fears of potential shortages.
At 18:51:30 in HeadlinesAn Islamic State video has appeared which purports to show the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a US journalist being held hostage by the militants.
At 18:49:24 in WalesFifteen parks in Flintshire have been protected as open spaces.
At 18:46:14 in WorldYemen's president has dismissed his government and promised to review fuel subsidy cuts in a bid to end a stand-off with Zaidi Shia rebels.
At 18:42:34 in HeadlinesThe surge in sales of laptops for students getting ready to start university has become like a "mini-Christmas", say technology retailers.
At 18:38:52 in HeadlinesThe Rosetta probe is about to begin the manoeuvres that will place it properly into orbit around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
At 18:37:01 in Northern IrelandThe Irish public has been asked not to buy exotic pets after a raccoon was captured in a County Dublin garden.
At 18:35:55 in TechnologyMore than 2,000 people have signed an open letter calling for an end to discrimination in the gaming industry.
At 18:28:28 in SportAlastair Cook says he will not stand down as England one-day captain despite their series defeat by India.
At 18:22:22 in EnglandThe "entire contents" of a Birmingham photographer's flat are to be moved to a city art gallery for an exhibition.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Young homeless underestimated by Britons, says survey [Online] (Updated 12th Apr 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1421859/Young-homeless-underestimated-by-Britons-says-survey [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]
News In Other Categories
National Grid is seeking additional electricity supplies for winter after unexpected plant shutdowns have raised fears of potential shortages.
Fifteen parks in Flintshire have been protected as open spaces.
South Yorkshire Chief Constable David Crompton is appearing before a MPs to answer questions about a search of Sir Cliff Richard's house.
A woman has died after being caught in a rockfall on Coire an t-Sneachda in the Cairngorm mountain range.
The "entire contents" of a Birmingham photographer's flat are to be moved to a city art gallery for an exhibition.
A man has been found guilty of bombarding a Labour MP with abusive messages on Twitter after she supported a feminist campaign.