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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                               

United Mexican States (Mexico)

Mexico has a free market economy in the trillion dollar class. It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector.

Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal.

The administration continues to face many economic challenges including the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize labor laws, and allow private investment in the energy

Description: Description: Mexico

sector. Calderon has stated that his top economic priorities remain reducing poverty and creating jobs.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Mexico.  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.


Mexico City's Street Children

Tod Robberson, Washington Post Service, International Herald Tribune, Mexico City, 25 May 1995

[accessed 20 June 2011]

The morning sun streaked across 12-year-old Eloy's emaciated face as he and his girlfriend, Margarita, greeted the new day from a discarded red velour armchair they had shared the previous night outside a Mexico City subway station.  Both yawned, squinted, then simultaneously pressed toxic, solvent-soaked tissues to their mouths, inhaling deeply.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Reports » 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005

[accessed 27 March 2020]

CHILDREN - There were an estimated 1,200 street children in Jalisco State, half of whom were believed to be victims of sexual abuse. The children were concentrated largely in Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and San Juan de los Lagos, and in areas with a heavy foreign tourist presence.  Child labor was a problem, particularly among migrant farming families

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, , 8 October 1999

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[30] While welcoming the fact that the State party's legislation complies with international labor standards and the measures taken for the eradication of child labor, the Committee is still concerned that economic exploitation remains one of the major problems affecting children in the State party. The Committee is particularly concerned that the State party, in its second periodic report, categorized street children as working children. The Committee is of the opinion that this misconception affects the scope and perception of this social phenomenon. In this regard, the Committee is particularly concerned that a large number of children are still involved in labor activities, especially in the informal sector and in agriculture. The Committee expresses its concern at the insufficient law enforcement and the lack of adequate monitoring mechanisms to address this situation.

A fish catching miracle in Mexico

Bill Bell, Vallarta Living, February 2009

[accessed 20 June 2011]

When you walk down the cobblestoned streets and peer in the open doorways you will find Mexican children that are well-loved, hugged, kissed and doted upon. Yet travel up into the Sierra Madres coastal mountains to the state capitol of Tepic and you will notice abandoned children scrounging the streets and landfills for anything of value. Much like the homeless now found on the North Shore, they sleep under bridges and in abandoned buildings. The big difference here is these are children as young as four and five years old, many forced out on the street because they were physically and sexually abused.

"While ministering in the prison in Tepic in 1968, Gonzales saw several little boys among the inmates," said now director, Russ Krube. "When he questioned the warden, he was told that the boys were homeless street children. Since there was no children's home in the entire state of Nayarit, they had no choice but to put the boys in with the adult prisoners."

Buckner explores needs in Mexico

Analiz González, Buckner International, January 25, 2008

[accessed 11 Aug  2013]

Mexico has hundreds of people-groups with dozens of languages, lifestyles and dialects. In the cities, adults often crowd into forsaken rooms in overpopulated barrios.  At least 1 million homeless children live in Mexico City, often raising each other on the streets. Mexico City is the largest city in the Americas—15 million people accounted for, and probably many more.

“Most of the people who live in this area are not originally from Mexico City,” Martinez said. “They don’t have steady salaries, and sometimes they have to go away to find work, and they leave their kids alone and with no food.”  Some women trek 30 minutes for the free meal with babies tied around their backs in pieces of cloth and other children walking by their side. Some children go alone.

Prizes for Communities Fighting Exclusion

Darío Montero, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Porto Alegre, Brazil, Dec 10 , 2007

[accessed 20 June 2011]

[accessed 24 December 2016]

"Street kids suffer social stigma. They are all viewed as drug dealers, and that's not the case. Drug consumption has increased all over the country because of the sealing of the border with the United States, and street children have become the first victims in this fight against drug trafficking."

The Morelos centre works with 80 children and young people who live on the streets, and another 150 who come in on a daily basis and receive specific support for their formal education studies, and efforts are made to convince their parents to take them out of the labour market, in return for a grant to compensate them for lost income.  Meanwhile, the Children's Education Centre in Colonia Ajusco, in the south of the city, only looks after working children, of whom there are already 230.

"But even within the Mexico City government, proposals are being made to 'clean up' the historic centre and remove the street kids from the area, because it's a tourist attraction and it should look nice," she complained. Such policies are often expressions of "social cleansing", and violate the children's human rights, she said.

GSIS graduate helping Mexican children - Harger heads nonprofit aiding victims of poverty

Claire Pelley, The Clarion (University of Denver), October 2, 2007

[accessed 20 June 2011]

[accessed 24 December 2016]

Each year, JUCONI improves the lives of 350 street children in the areas of education, basic health and lifestyle choices that will take kids off the streets of Puebla and into the classroom. However, their focus goes well beyond the basic needs of the children. The program also targets more than 150 parents to help create better lives for the entire family. They have created permanent positive life changes in more than 80 percent of the children they work with.

According to Harger their work isn't finished until the whole family has reached their goals.  "They're with [JUCONI] as long as it takes. It's usually three to five years, but we have some families that have been with us for nine years." She explained. "The families just have different hurdles to overcome."

RIGHTS-MEXICO: 16,000 Victims of Child Sexual Exploitation

Emilio Godoy, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Mexico City, Aug 13 , 2007

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[accessed 24 December 2016]

International organisations fighting child sex tourism say Mexico is one of the leading hotspots of child sexual exploitation, along with Thailand, Cambodia, India, and Brazil.

Another chilling statistic is that 95 percent of Mexico City’s 13,000 street children have already had at least one sexual encounter with an adult. - htsccp

Old homeless prostitutes in Mexico get a home

Sofia Miselem, Agence France-Presse AFP, Mexico City, May 28, 2007

[accessed 11 Aug  2013]

"It was very cold and I saw some cardboard boxes moving on the sidewalk. They were old prostitutes sleeping on the street, and right then and there I decided I had to do something about it," the former prostitute told AFP.

It is not pretty and is located in La Merced, one of Mexico City's most violent neighborhoods, where street walkers charge less than four dollars a session, but Munoz is proud and her tenants are grateful for the facility.

Delivering hope

Marla Jo Fisher, The Orange County Register, March 25, 2007

[accessed 20 June 2011]

[scroll down]

CHILDREN LIVING ALONE ON THE STREETS - No one is quite sure exactly how many private orphanages are operating in Baja California. Though these establishments are called orphanages, most of the children's parents are alive. Some kids have been abandoned. In other cases, parents are simply too poor and desperate to keep them.  The Mexican government estimates some 6,000 children are living on the streets in the Tijuana area, though other researchers have put that count as high as 20,000.

Children have been rescued foraging for food in the city dump. One woman took in three little girls she found living under a car after their mother died. Some migrants making their way to the U.S. leave their children behind at orphanages, planning to return someday to collect them. Other kids have parents who are prostitutes or drug addicts.

While the Mexican government will pick up street children, it must look for places to put them in private homes, since there is no government system of foster care. Adoption is difficult and discouraged.  "An orphanage is actually like Camelot – it's ideal," Perez said. "It's the ultimate location."

Art project aims to help homeless kids

Nancy Flores, El Universal, November, 2006

Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 20 September 2011]

At 14, Martín Cruz was faced with a major life decision: Should he leave his home or stay in a toxic family situation? Cruz left. And after bouncing between temporary homes and shelters, he had no choice but to join thousands of children who live on the streets of this megalopolis.

Oaxaca Children in Protest Camps, Not Classrooms

Diego Cevallos, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Oaxaca Mexico, Oct 7, 2006

[accessed 20 June 2011]

[accessed 24 December 2016]

In Oaxaca, the average number of years of schooling is six years, lower than the national average of 7.8 years. Half a million people aged 15 and over cannot read or write in this state with a population of 3.5 million, of whom 1.1 million are indigenous people.  According to official statistics, 112,000 children between the ages of five and 14 do not attend school in Oaxaca, representing 12 percent of the children in that age group.

Mexico's wealth divide keeps kids on street

Catherine Bremer, Reuters, Puebla, August 1, 2006

[accessed 20 June 2011]

[accessed 24 December 2016]

When night falls, 34-year-old Ernesto Portillo takes a bag of toy cars, board games and sweets, jumps on his moped and weaves through the dark streets of the colonial Mexican city of Puebla.

An unconventional charity worker, his job is to roam around trying to befriend the scrawny kids as young as 6 who live under the city's bridges and squat in open-air market stalls.

In 10 years, Portillo has got some 200 kids off the street and into care. He has also been chased off, taunted by drunks, called a pervert and threatened by a terrified 11-year-old boy wielding a rock.

Mexican Street Children Facts & Statistics

Mexico Child Link Trust

[accessed 20 June 2011]*%20Mexico-%22Street%20Children%22

[accessed 24 December 2016]

Mexico City has 1,900,000 underprivileged and street children. 240,000 of these are abandoned children. (Action International Ministries)

In the central area of Mexico City there are 11,172 street children. 1,020 live in the street and 10,152 work there. (City of Mexico/Fideicomiso, Report, 1991)

20% survive by begging, 24% by selling goods, and others by doing subcontracting work.

Meet Fernando, Just One Street Kid in Mexico City

Ann M. Augherton, Arlington Catholic Herald, 11/20/03

[accessed 20 June 2011]

He is a con man, a beggar, an entrepreneur and perhaps the mayor of his "little town." His town is Plaza Francisco Zarco, a square in Mexico City, dedicated to a famous 19th-century Mexican journalist.  Fernando, a bright-eyed 13-year-old who looks much younger than his age, is one of countless children who make their home on the streets of Mexico City.

Abandoned & homeless: Street children with a learning disability

Mexico Child Link Trust

[accessed 20 June 2011]

In a relatively well off society, the child with learning disabilities is generally well cared for, usually at home within the family.  In a developing country such as Mexico, the child with learning disabilities often ends up homeless, in an overcrowded orphanage, or living amongst the street kids.

There are many reasons why children are abandoned & left homeless, such as domestic violence & family breakup, as well as economic migration of the parents to the United States. In Mexico City or Puebla, it is not unusual to see homeless children as young as four or five years old working in the street, selling chewing-gum, matches or trinkets.

The child with learning disability is much more likely to be abandoned because s/he cannot contribute economically to the family from an early age.

Street Children at High Risk of AIDS

Adapted from: Diego Cevallos, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, August 18, 2003

[accessed 20 June 2011]

According to experts' estimates, as many as 7 percent of the approximately 20,000 youngsters ages 13-17 who live on the streets of Mexico City are HIV-infected. Ignorance, unprotected sex, promiscuity and drug use are spreading the virus quickly among this high-risk group.

Beating Of Twenty Street Children In Mexico City By Police

A-Infos News Service, April 16th, 1998

[accessed 20 June 2011]

20 street children (boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18) who live in the sewers close to the metro Hidalgo, were being attended by a group of volunteers who were handing out food.  Riot police stopped at the point where the street children were eating and immediately started to hit the children with their truncheons …

Street Children in Trouble

Kristen Smith, El Universal/El Gran Diario de México, 30 April 1997

[accessed 20 June 2011]

Street children face violence from police and labor exploitation, but most of them cannot file a complaint with the México City Human Rights Commission because they have no birth certificates, said Vega.  "Without a birth certificate it's as if they do not exist. They cannot file complaints. They can do nothing," he said.

Persistent Violations Of The Human Rights Of  Street Children Of Both Sexes

Ben Schonveld, l'Organisation Mondiale contre la Torture OMCT (The World Organisation Against Torture), Geneva, June 10th 1997

[accessed 20 June 2011]

Responsibility for these acts appears lies with private security guards, agents of the police force and judicial police. According to the information, these three bodies both public and private operate, often in collusion, in the North Central Bus Station, Mexico City and surrounding area, are responsible for persistent acts of physical and verbal acts of harassment and violence including sexual acts and presumed forced disappearances. Despite the many denunciations, to this day, none of those responsible have been brought to justice.

Guadalajara is the second biggest city in Mexico

Oasis En-Gadi

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

[accessed 20 June 2011]

There are said to be up to 2,500 street children in Guadalajara.  They work in menial jobs such as washing car windscreens at traffic lights, selling chewing gum and carrying people's bags in the markets.  but they may also earn a living from prostitution and drugs.

Bringing street kids to the light; New center in Mexico will reach homeless girls

Kenneth D. MacHarg, Latin America Mission LAM News Service, Morelia Mexico

[accessed 20 June 2011]

"We have some parents who need their children to earn the living for them," she reflects. "People just don't give as well to an adult begging as to a child. We have found five and six year olds who are just all alone, living in the park."

Sue, a native of Muskegon, Michigan, says that many just run away to escape abuse or pain. "One little boy we found in the park was definitely physically and sexually abused. He didn't want to give his name. One day he just picked a name off a list and started using it. He has never said anything about his past, he has never talked about his mother or father."

Change for Good celebrates 10 years of changing children's lives

British Airways

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

[accessed 20 June 2011]

2004 FUNDINGMEXICO - In Mexico City a donation of £150,000 helped street children by funding various education and support initiatives including an anti-violence programme in schools to help prevent children working on the streets in the first place.

Street Outreach

Covenant House Mexico

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

[accessed 20 June 2011]

STREET OUTREACH - The objective of Street Outreach is to invite Street Youth to participate in a Residential Program so that they may leave the streets, and of their own volition, begin the process of education and rehabilitation. Covenant House Mexico (known locally as Casa Alianza Mexico) uses a holistic approach to care wherein the team of street educators initiates contact with the children, intending to build a non-judgmental, trusting relationship based upon mutual respect. Youth are offered support and assistance with immediate needs, such as first aid. Once they have decided to leave the streets, youth are invited to enter into one of the Casa Alianza residential programs.

ACERCATEL - Acercatel (01-800-110-1010) is a 24-hour telephone hotline for youth in crisis. Acercatel provides emotional support, information, counseling, referrals and crisis intervention for young people facing a variety of problems including family conflict and sexual trafficking. Last year Acercatel responded to more than 13,000 crisis calls.

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 - Mexico",, [accessed <date>]