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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                           


The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for more than 60% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina.

The economy faces serious long-term problems: a sizable merchandise trade deficit, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of almost 130%.

High unemployment exacerbates the serious crime problem, including gang violence that is fueled by the drug trade.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Jamaica

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Jamaica.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Action needed on street children - Boys being used as criminal pawns

Fabian Ledgister, Jamaica Gleaner, July 29, 2007

[accessed 3 June 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

Speaking against the background of recent criminal activities where police have identified street children as the perpetrators of major crimes, Pious cites the cause as lack of attention being given these youths.

Officer in charge of crime at the Half-Way Tree Police Station, Detective Sergeant Radcliffe Levy, says: "It's a big business being conducted by this gang, where they loot cameras, cellphones, and other items, and sell them at cheap prices to others that sell them again."

REHABILITATION - "Rehabilitation is equipping these kids with a career skill such as barbering, photography and cosmetology, so instead of becoming monsters, they have the self-reliance and confidence to uplift themselves. In our preventative measures, we go into the homes and communities where these streets kids are coming from and try to empower the parents of kids with skills so they don't push their children to street hustling," Pious added.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 15 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - More than 2,800 children live on the streets, and are engaged in work such as newspaper delivery, vending, and domestic service.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Public primary education was free, universal, and compulsory for students between the ages of 6 and 11, and the Ministry of Education reported that 99 percent of children in that age group were enrolled in school. However, economic circumstances obliged thousands of children to stay home to help with housework and avoid school fees. As a result, attendance rates at primary schools averaged 78 percent, although some rural areas reported attendance as low as 50 percent. More than 70 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 16 had access to secondary school.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] The Child Care and Protection Act provides that children under the age of 12 shall not be employed except by parents or guardians, and that such employment may be only in domestic, agricultural, or horticultural work. It also prohibits children under the age of 15 from industrial employment. The police are mandated with conducting child labor inspections, and the CDA is charged with finding places of safety for children. However, according to CDA officials, resources to investigate exploitative child labor were insufficient. Children under the age of 12 peddled goods and services or begged on city streets.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 June 2003

[accessed 15 February 2011]

[52] While noting that the State party is aware that the number of street children is increasing, the Committee remains concerned at the situation of street children and at the lack of specific mechanisms and measures to address this situation, as well as the lack of relevant data in this regard.

[54] The Committee is concerned at the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children, including street children, and the lack of accurate data and adequate laws and policies in this regard.

Life On The Streets - Student Unveils Study On Children At Risk

Nadisha Hunter, The Gleaner, October 23, 2010

[accessed 24 September 2011]

In providing a clearer picture of the horrendous living conditions faced by the children who are between the ages of seven and 18, the young researcher said cardboard boxes or even the bare ground behind buildings were their resting place at night.

According to Finch 20 per cent of respondents ask members of the public for money, another 20 per cent of respondents are engaged in stealing, 10 per cent peddle drugs, 10 per cent are involved in prostitution while the remaining 40 per cent take part in other illegal activities.   The majority of children interviewed said they want to leave the streets while about five per cent expressed the view that they had no problem with their current lifestyle.   Finch pointed out that his study found that most of the children ended up on the street as a result of physical and emotional abuse, neglect, as well as poverty.

Child vendors

Kaydia King, Letter to the Editor, Jamaica Gleaner, April 29, 2009

[accessed 3 June 2011]

[accessed 18 December 2016]

The Editor, Sir:  It has been brought to my attention that the number of children vending on the streets has reached an alarming level. It is as if the number is doubling. What is even more troubling is the fact that these children can be seen during school hours 'higglering'.

Illiteracy - fuel for crime in Clarendon

Gareth Manning and Mark Titus, Jamaica Gleaner, November 2, 2008

[accessed 3 June 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

STREET CHILDREN - Illiteracy is probably most common among Clarendon's 175 street and working children who have poor attendance records at school. Most are between the ages of 11 and 17 years old. The street children study of 2002 reported that most of them worked in the vicinity of the May Pen Market and along the coast in Race Course and Rocky Point.

Marlon (not his real name) was one of those boys. The Sunday Gleaner met him last year on a trip to the Rocky Point fishing district, an area notorious for its robust gun- and-drugs trade.

At 13 years old, Marlon could not read or write, although he was attending an all-age school. He was only attending school for three days of the week - Monday to Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were spent on the fishing beach selling juices to hot, thirsty fisher folk.

"Mi parents dem no response fi mi," he told us then. His words were few, but very profound. He was one of 14 children for his mother. The man he said is his father has never claimed paternity. With neither of his parents taking responsibility for him, he lives with his grandmother.

No night out for street kids

Taneisha Lewis, Jamaica Observer, April 05, 2007

[accessed 24 September 2011]

Government, grappling with the growing problem of children roaming the streets, especially at nights, plans to use retired policemen to keep them off and warned parents that they would face prosecution.

The Child Development Agency (CDA), said the minister, would be seeking to find a location to house the children where they would be cared for until their parents are located. "We haven't really worked out the logistic, but we are going to also find the parents and prosecute the parents," the minister added.

Street kids dilemma

Petre Williams, Jamaica Observer, August 13, 2006

[accessed 3 June 2011]

The practice of putting street-wise kids in foster care or children's homes is futile and will end in rebellion, a clinical psychologist is warning Jamaica.  Dr Pearnel Bell, who practises out of tourist resort city Montego Bay in St James, also pleaded for a change of tactics to help street children rejoin mainstream society and give them a chance to live a normal childhood.

Golding urges action to rescue street children from violence, sexual abuse

Balford Henry, Jamaica Observer, April 24, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 June 2011]

"At the rate that the Possibility Programme is going, children are going to be coming on the streets faster than you are able to accommodate them in this programme. We really need to first of all get hold of them and just rescue them," Golding insisted

"The kind of things they are exposed to on the streets, the violence and the sexual abuse, we just need to get hold of them and put them under some sort of care and guidance." And, Davies insisted: "As well as to get to the root causes."

Child Prostitution Widespread in Jamaica

Jamaica Observer, July 21, 2002

[accessed 27 January 2015]

Children, Some As Young As 10 And 11 Years Old, Are Engaged In Prostitution.

Study listed nine categories of children engaging in sex for gain and said they were pushed basically by lack of economic support, love and affection.  The first of the nine categories listed was children living and working on the streets, mostly boys between ages 12 and 18

Violence Against Children in Jamaica, W.I. A Cross Cultural Qualitative Study

Dr. Joan Lesser, Dr. Marlene Cooper, and Yunena Morales, 30 minute Paper Presentation in English at the Third International Conference On New Directions In Humanities, Humanities Conference 2005, University of Cambridge, 2-5 August 2005

[accessed 3 June 2011]

Within the last decade 22,000 youth were labeled "street children" who lived and worked in the streets doing jobs such as machinery, welding, domestic work, care giving and newspaper delivery. Many turn to or are forced into child prostitution and/or the drug trade in order to survive.

Prostitution In Jamaica

Paul Andrew Bourne, able2know, 2 Sep, 2005

[accessed 3 June 2011]

COMMERCIAL SEX WORKERS - Street and working children are a particularly vulnerable group to prostitution. These children lack family and social support. (Dunn, 2001) posits that small boys between the ages of 6 and 17 years were most exploited. They did not have the protection of adult family members or institutional environment for support and as such were exposed to extreme economic deprivation and abuse. Those involved in sexual activity were between 12 and 18 years. The majorities were from very poor backgrounds and were out of school; although a few attended school regularly Dunn, (2001).

"Nobody's Children" Jamaican Children in Police Detention and Government Institutions

Human Rights Watch Report, 1999 -- ISBN: 1-56432-230-0

[accessed 3 June 2011]

SUMMARY - In the island nation of Jamaica, many children-often as young as twelve or thirteen-are detained for long periods, sometimes six months or more, in filthy and overcrowded police lockups, in spite of international standards and Jamaican laws that forbid such treatment. The children are often held in the same cells as adults accused of serious crimes, vulnerable to victimization by their cellmates and to ill-treatment by abusive police; and virtually always, they are held in poor conditions, deprived of proper sanitary facilities, adequate ventilation, adequate food, exercise, education, and basic medical care. Some of these children have not been detained on suspicion of criminal activity but have been locked up only because they are deemed "in need of care and protection."

Launch of Possibility Program

Address By Prime Minister Rt. Hon. P.J. Patterson, Q.C., M.P. At Launch Of Possibility Programme At The Hilton Kingston Hotel On Thursday, August 2, 2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 June 2011]

The Possibility Program is a national program aimed at improving the lot of street children and youths across the nation, by providing them with the resources, support and tools for maximizing their human potential. It should enhance connectedness with family, community and the larger society.  The ultimate goal of the Program is to eliminate the need for children and youths to be on the streets, thereby breaking the cycle of poverty.

St Andrew Rotary Club to build hostel for street boys

John Myers Jr., Jamaica Gleaner, July 16, 2004

[accessed 3 June 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

THE ROTARY Club of St. Andrew this week announced plans to construct a US$250,000 hostel to accommodate street boys in the Corporate Area as the main component of its centennial project.  The hostel will provide temporary shelter for boys aged 10 to 18 years old who are registered under the Possibility Program.

National Consultation on Juvenile Justice

Address By Rt. Hon. P.J. Patterson, Q.C., P.C. Prime Minister On National Consultation On Juvenile Justice Jamaica Conference Centre Thursday, August 16, 2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 June 2011]

Although it is still a minority of young people that fall into these categories, it is nevertheless a significant minority which could increase, if we do not put proper measures in place, to rescue them and ensure that they are given every opportunity to fulfill their God-given talents.

Just recently, I launched the Possibility Programme, a comprehensive plan to address the problem of street children. Under this programme we intend to rescue these children and re-socialise them to become better-adjusted and productive members of the society.

Ultimately, the problem of street children can only be solved when there is greater societal concern and awareness, and when parents are more responsible in their care of children.

My Casual Observations and Questions [DOC]

Kiyoshi Abe, Professor of International Economics, Chiba University Study Tour of Jamaica, Thursday, September 5 to Monday, September 9, 2002

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 June 2011]

(3) SCHOOL AND STREET CHILDREN - Literacy is high in Jamaica.  Education is well established, a good legacy of the British rule.  Almost all children go to elementary school.  The Jamaica Gleaner, however, points out Jamaica’s growing number of street children.  I have witnessed such children in Kingston so many times.

Jamaica's Women Drug Mules Fill UK Jails

BBC News, 13 September, 2003

[accessed 3 June 2011]

"The majority of these women that we work with in prison were the main caregivers - for both the mothers and grandmothers, and the junior members - they were the main providers for the household," she stated.   "Therefore once they are taken out of that, the situation is that the elderly mothers end up with extended families, the children are all over the streets and become street children because there's no-one there to care for them."

USAID/Jamaica - Success Stories

United States Agency for International Development USAID

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 June 2011]

[scroll down]

EDUCATION – HARRY - An estimated 7,500 children currently live on the streets of Jamaica enduring a grim and angry existence hustling for a living. Many others live "off the street" - perhaps at home or with relatives - but work on the street during the day. Most of the street kids are disenfranchised in some way - no home, no parents, no education, no sustainable future.

Street Children Hooked On Ganja

Erica Virtue, Jamaica Gleaner, 24 March 2002

[accessed 3 June 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

She admitted that it will be hard to keep them off the streets where they can make between $500 and $2,000 a day begging, borrowing and threatening people.

Caring For Street Children

Dorothy Smith, Letter to the Editor, Jamaica Gleaner, November 6, 2001

[accessed 3 June 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

I had an experience sometime in July of this year when two street children without the driver's permission wiped the windscreen of the vehicle I was in and when told that there was no money to pay them the picture was not a pretty one.  It is my belief that legislation should be enacted whereby the parents of street children should be compelled to get these children off the street.

Children First

Children First

[accessed 24 September 2011]

[accessed 18 December 2016]

Children First is a newly transformed independent non-governmental agency. The original project began in 1989 with the support of Save the Children Fund (UK), with 50 street children.

The Mission of Children First is to work with street, working and vulnerable children to improve their life opportunities and enable their contribution to society, through active engagement with children and young people, their families, communities and institutions which affect their lives.

In The Midst Of Gang Violence, Jamaican NGO Makes A Difference

Michael Mogensen, Children and Youth in Organised Armed Violencee COAV, March 25, 2004

[accessed 3 June 2011]

Authorities estimate that there are hundreds of street children living on or off the street in Spanish Town, and thousands island-wide.  Carefully non-partisan in a country long dominated by fierce political disputes, the organization and Richardson-Pious’s work has earned her the respect from police and "dons" – the gang and neighborhood bosses that control much of the city.  "You have to negotiate with the dons, so that they don’t use children. We have said ‘ease off the children’ and it is a similar relationship with the police. If a child is caught shoplifting or whatever, the police will call me."

Human Rights Education for Street and Working Children: Principles and Practice

Tracey Holland, Human Rights Quarterly 20:1 Human Rights Quarterly 20.1 (1998) 173-193

[partially accessed 3 June 2011 - access restricted]

[partially accessed 18 December 2016 - access restricted]

Human rights can be used as tools to help street and working children deal effectively with those difficult, and often confrontational, situations that they must face on a daily basis.

Throughout their lives, these children are marginalized and forced to live through experiences that seem to have no relationship whatsoever to such a concept as human rights.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Jamaica",, [accessed <date>]