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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                           


Domestic consumption and investment have fueled strong GDP growth in recent years, but have led to large current account imbalances. Romania's macroeconomic gains have only recently started to spur creation of a middle class and address Romania's widespread poverty. Corruption and red tape continue to handicap its business environment. Inflation rose in 2007-08, driven in part by strong consumer demand and high wage growth, rising energy costs, a nation-wide drought affecting food prices, and a relaxation of fiscal discipline.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Romania

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


Street Kids

Marissa Yaremich, Register, May 7, 2007

[accessed 12 July 2011]

In the sewer’s dim recesses, filthy children huddle with adults — all considered "street kids" — and breathe in the dizzying narcotic fumes of a solvent-based glue through plastic bags clutched to their mouths.  For Gabi, 31, who resorted to sewer life when he ran away from a state orphanage at age 14, the fumes kill his hunger pangs, or in the plain English he’s learned in an Internet cafe, are used "instead of meals."

Gabi and some of his 14 other sewer mates — either orphans or abused runaways — acknowledge in their native Romanian tongue conveyed through a translator that life should have more to offer than stealing or begging.  They then regroup on a rank mattress to inhale more glue.

Laurenteu, 33, who spent the last 15 years in the sewers following his release from a state orphanage, does not have much faith in the government.

Nearby in the Grozavesti-Metrou neighborhood, Elena, 18, covers dozens of intravenous drug scars with a jacket and then crawls out of a sewer to breastfeed her daughter, one-year-old Bianca. Unlike Laurenteu, the runaway said she wants to believe in the government’s promises and Booth’s commitment to help street kids because she wants to finish night classes.

Romania's Street Children Have Kids Of Their Own

Dina Kyriakidou, The International Child and Youth Care Network CYC-NET, 23 July 2003

[accessed 12 July 2011]

Police figures show the number of homeless children has been falling — from 2,500 in 2000 to 1,500 in 2002 — but the children themselves have been growing up.  Many of the homeless children who filled the Balkan country's streets after the 1989 collapse of communism are now having kids of their own.  "We are older now.  Nobody wants to help us," Bogdan said.  "If you don't have a place to live, nobody gives you work."


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - ROMANIA [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2006

[accessed 12 July 2011]

[accessed 1 January 2017]

A number of street children in Romania are involved in prostitution or have been forced to engage in the production of pornographic material, while other vulnerable children are also recruited by paedophiles or trafficking networks at a very early age. Most street children come from Roma families. Street children are among the most vulnerable groups of children, and both girls and boys are sexually exploited at a very early age. Rape is very frequent in the streets, and girls and very young boys are the main victims. There are at least 2,000 street children in Bucharest and 5,000 in the whole country.

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 19 December 2010]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Street children, children in urban areas, and Roma children are the most vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor.  Street children are found begging, washing cars, selling merchandise, performing household work, collecting waste products, loading and unloading merchandise, stealing, and engaging in prostitution.  It is estimated that about 30 percent of sex workers in Bucharest are under 18 years of age

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 29 March 2020]

CHILDREN - While the government did not have official statistics on the scope of homeless children living on the streets, police, social workers, and NGOs estimated that between three thousand and five thousand children lived on the streets, depending on the season. According to a UNICEF report, issued in November in conjunction with the ministry of health and the former national authority for child protection, about nine thousand children were abandoned every year, with most going to institutions and foster homes.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] An international report released in November estimated that 3.9 million of the 5.6 million children in the country were "economically active." Over 300 thousand (approximately 7 percent) were "child laborers," working without any contractual arrangements in agriculture or low-skilled jobs, while 900 thousand (19 percent) worked in their own households, especially in rural areas. Approximately 300 thousand (6 percent) were engaged in physically demanding work, while 70 thousand (approximately 1 percent) were victims of the "worst forms of child labor," including hazardous work, sexual exploitation, forced labor, trafficking, or criminal activity. This last category included more than 3 thousand "street children," the majority of whom lived in Bucharest. Child labor, including begging, selling trinkets on the street, or washing windshields, remained widespread in Romani communities; children engaged in such activities could be as young as five years old. There was official recognition of the problem, and the country continued to show progress in eliminating the worst forms of child labor. The ANPDC was in the process of establishing a coordination center with a hot line in Bucharest to address the number of street children.

Human Rights Reports » 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

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

[accessed 29 March 2020]

CHILDREN - A number of impoverished and apparently homeless children were visible on the streets of larger cities. While the Government did not have statistics on scope of the problem, police reports and social workers' estimates have placed the number of street children nationwide at 1,500. This number was lower than had been estimated in the past and questionable, given that street children were extremely difficult to count.

Approximately half of the children remaining in the large childcare institutions were between the ages of 14 and 18. Without changes to the system, a significant number were likely to leave these institutions with no skills and employment and no ability to earn a living or obtain housing. There was no systematic provision of labor market information, skills training, or job placement services for such persons and there was a high probability that they would gravitate to the streets, engaging in prostitution or crime. Although independent living programs were more widespread, a growing number of young persons were in need of these services.

The law requires the National Agency for Employment to provide up to 75 percent of the median national salary to employers for hiring persons between 16 and 25 years who are at risk of social exclusion. Effective January 2005, the new law provides that youth leaving the state institutional system may receive state assistance for an additional 2 years, during which they would receive skills training for independent living.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 31 January 2003

[accessed 19 December 2010]

[52] The Committee notes the initiatives to launch special programs and provide free textbooks and school materials, as well as meals to encourage school enrolment and attendance. However, the Committee is concerned that:  (a) The number of children from rural areas and the percentage of girls dropping out of school are disproportionately high;  (d) Children belonging to certain categories do not benefit from equal opportunities as concerns education (i.e. children from less favored families, children with disabilities, children affected by HIV/AIDS, children living in the streets and the Roma and refugee children).

[56] The Committee is encouraged by the ongoing efforts of the Special Representative, in cooperation with ILO and others, aimed at addressing the problem of child labor in Romania. However, the Committee is concerned that the number of children working in the city streets, in rural areas and households is still high, and that:  (a) As a means of overcoming poverty many children, as young as 6 years, are engaged in regular work;  (b) Some children entitled to work do work in very poor conditions, including without insurance or social security benefits, with very low wages, for long hours and in dangerous and/or abusive conditions.

[60] The Committee is encouraged by the ongoing initiatives to decrease the number of street children, including the " Home Again" campaign. However it is concerned that there remain large numbers of children living on the street in urban areas, and in particular that:  (a) They are vulnerable to, among other things, sexual abuse, violence, including from the police, lack of access to education, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition;  (b) Institutionalization is frequently resorted to;  (c) There is a lack of services, including recovery and reintegration services, specialized personnel and shelters.

Stray boys, in Europe

Alessandro Ursic, Peace Reporter, 30/05/2007

[accessed 12 July 2011]


“Come inside, I’ll show you where I live,” says Catalin, 15. A hundred meters or so through the undergrowth, a few bare bulbs illuminate a collapsing shack. Home for fifteen teens and adults, between 14 and 30. They sleep on communal mattresses on the ground. Miniature adults, but still with the spirit of children, as shown by the giant stuffed animals that decorate the shack. Both inside and outside their home, utter degradation: litter, scattered newspapers, empty bottles everywhere.

About one thousand young people live like this in Bucharest. In winter, they sleep underground, their front door a manhole cover. Not in the sewers, as many think, but the tunnels that carry hot water pipes to the city’s apartment blocks. The pipes keep the spaces warm, which means survival.

All these young people have similar stories. They ran away from home to escape from violent, drunken fathers. Or they have no parents, or their families were too poor to keep them, or they were placed in orphanages where the staff abused them. Whatever the cause, it was less painful to flee and live like strays. As they see it, it’s not so bad. “We like living here,” they say in the Costin Giorgeanu group. But it’s clear they aren’t well.

Aloisio attributes the improvement to several factors. Many of the street children have died, devastated by the life and Aurolac. Others have found space in group homes set up in recent years. Today, few young people run away to live in the street, but once a child decides to live there, it becomes hard to bring him back.

Circus gives children newfound life - In 1992, French clown met hundreds of street kids who lived like animals

Tandem, 2008-11-16

[accessed 12 July 2011]

[accessed 1 January 2017]

The street children of Bucharest live on the streets, in the sewers or in the run-down North station. Today they number about 5,000. They live like lepers forgotten by the State and only the sewers offer them the protection they need to survive the harsh Romanian winters. In order to live in a warm and dry shelter they have to put up with cockroaches and rats. The only place available for cooking is the floor and there is no water for washing. They have fled from homes or from their families in which they were beaten or who did not have enough money to support them. Society did not pay attention to the street children before 1989. Now the children have become adults. In North station in Bucharest, their second generation is on its way. Hierarchies have developed. What is worse, more than 75% of the children take drugs and sniff poisonous solvents.

Film Notes: Three Romanian Movies

Denise Roman, The Update newsletter of the UCLA Center for the Study of Women

[accessed 12 July 2011]

[accessed 1 January 2017]

 [scroll down]

The general banning of abortion in Romania is also responsible for engendering an entire population of street children, who spend their time living underground in the sewage system, or gathering in railway stations. They live under the effect of hallucinatory substances, mainly a local chemical originally designed to clean the parquetry. Called “Aurolac,” this substance lends its name to its young consumers; Romanians call street children “Aurolaci.” Edet Belzberg’s Oscar-nominated documentary Children Underground (2000) addresses the issue of street children, a topic the Romanian citizens and authorities are still uncomfortable to talk about.

Show support for Romanian street kids

Papakura Courier, 01/04/2008

[accessed 12 July 2011]

The eye-opening experience showed them just how tough life is for the street children.  "There’s no such thing as a social welfare system to start off with so they’ve got to earn a dollar," Jenny says.  "There are two-thirds more boys than girls on the streets but it’s very difficult for girls. They are basically sent out as prostitutes," she says.  Many of the boys turn to begging to survive.

New Center in Romania to Aid Missing and Exploited Children

Alexandria, Virginia -- Distributed by PR Newswire on behalf of International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children

[accessed 19 December 2010]


v  The number of missing children reported missing in Romania has steadily increased from 244 in 2003, to 660 in 2004, to 750 in 2005.

v  There are an estimated 100,000 homeless children throughout Eastern Europe, including 2,000 in Romania. Child trafficking and child prostitution are problems in Romania and represent a large threat throughout Eastern Europe. Homeless or "street" children are frequent victims. An estimated 5 percent of the homeless children in Romania are forced into child prostitution.

v  An estimated 30% of sex workers in Bucharest are under 18 years of age. Romania, and in particular Bucharest, is one of the key travel destinations in Europe for child sex offenders.

v  Romania is a country of origin and transit for women and girls who are internationally trafficked from Moldova, Ukraine, and other parts of the former Soviet Union to Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Orphans' Angel

Register reporter Marissa Yaremich and photographer Melanie Stengel, Bucharest, May 7, 2007

[accessed 12 July 2011]

Just neighborhoods away from where Booth’s orphans fondly call Archway "Casa Nostra," or "Our House," scores of other children — dismissed as sub-class Gypsies — crawl through sewers and fend off stray dogs for food scraps.  Instead of identification papers to help obtain jobs, they bear cheap tattoos depicting the names of honored, lost and dead loved ones. Rather than home-cooked meals, they huff on the narcotic fumes of Aurolac, an industrial paint, or solvent-based glue.

Dark lives of the tunnel children

Nicola Smith Bucharest, The Sunday Times, February 4, 2007 -- Pictures by Nick Cornish

Login Required … [accessed 12 July 2011]

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

As my eyes became accustomed to the gloom, I saw the hand again. A little boy of 11 named Vlad was gesturing to me to follow him into a Dickensian underworld that hundreds of children call home.

It was the heat that had drawn them underground. While the temperature at pavement level touched freezing, the tunnel was warm enough to stand in without a coat. But the humidity was stifling; the stench of rotting rubbish and excrement almost overpowering.

Big heart, hundreds of shoes

Sara Gividen, The State Journal, December 22, 2006

[accessed 12 July 2011]

According to Nallia, who visits the country one to three times each year, the street children are escapees from the countrys poor orphanage system, or sent away by parents unable to care for them, or runaways from abusers.  He said many of them slip into the sex industry, either as prostitutes or are sold to pedophiles as a way to make money. He said the children often form gang-like groups known as "surviving families" which leads to second and third generations of street children.

The Street Children in Romania

15 November 1998!work!/index.htm

[accessed 13 July 2011]

On the streets, the children earn money by begging, stealing, doing menial tasks or prostitution. They live in small metal containers or card boxes (1 meter by 1.5 meters) which line some of the sidewalks in Bucharest, in one of the city's main train stations, the underground or the sewers.

Romania's Blighted Street Children

Glenda Cooper, BBC News, Bucharest, 17 September, 2004

[accessed 13 July 2011]

Their home is in a tunnel running under the city that forms part of a network carrying hot water pipes.  There is no natural light - just a few candles on the walls. Rubbish is strewn across the floor.  And there are children who say they are 16, but look no older than 10, sniffing glue from bags.  These children say this "home" is their best option.

Street Children in Romania - A Graphic Diary of the Lives of Street Children in Romania

Street Kids Matter

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

[accessed 13 July 2011]

Imagine for a moment what it would be like for you.  You have no money. You have no home. Your children are starving. In exhaustion, you huddle together at the locked door of the metro subway. A sad, pathetic scrap of rejected humanity.  This is the reality that many people would rather ignore.

Street Children

Save the Children - Romania

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

[accessed 13 July 2011]

Currently, there are almost 2.000 street children in Romania, 61% of them in Bucharest. Out of them, 1.500 come from families and 500 from child protection institutions. Their health is endangered by their living conditions, at the same time being potential victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking

ROMANIA - Report On The Worst Forms Of Child Labour [PDF]

The Global March Against Child Labour

[accessed 14 October 2012]


Street Children - A recent survey on street children found that the main types of work they did was agriculture, begging, delivery work, loading/unloading goods and prostitution.

Street Children - According to Romanian Save the Children, there are between 5,000 and 6,000 children in Bucharest who live on the streets.

Street Children- Arad, Romania

The Clokes in Arad, Romania

[accessed 13 July 2011]

Yesterday we had a lot of trouble. Many of the kids were high on 'Auralac' - the solvent they inhale. Some were fighting and a few were quite aggressive because when they are high they are not really themselves. We ended up having to put them all out and not give them any food that day, except to Tatiana, a fifteen year old who is pregnant.

Bitter winter for Romania's street children

Harold Briley, BBC News, January 2, 1998

[accessed 13 July 2011]

By midnight, when the last of the commuters have hurried home, the Street Children doss down on the cold stone floor of the Gara de Nord. Others descend into the sewers to seek shelter from the winter winds swirling around the silent station.

An Ordinary Life - Romania's Throwaway Orphans Children

Ken Myers, The Paper, April 8th, 2010 -- This cover story was written principally by Ken Myers with additional data supplied by Messrs Heard, Imper, and published accounts of the work of Kiwanis within the nation of Romania

[accessed 13 July 2011]

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Romania has an estimated 6,000 children living on the streets.

Transition to a free market economy has left Romania a staggering eight times poorer than ten years ago with 44% of Romanians living in poverty. However, this figure rises to 80% in rural areas of the North East.

This has had a devastating effect on family life. Facing extreme poverty, many parents resort to home-made alcohol. Their children face the resulting brutality and a life of enforced begging or stealing. More and more children are running away to escape these hardships.  The children migrate via the railway network and congregate in large city stations. Most children admitted to our house have a history of abuse at home.

Street Children in Romania

The Relief Fund for Romania

[accessed 13 July 2011]

Romania has an estimated 6,000 plus homeless children living on the streets, most having run away from institutions or family abuse. As Romania's notorious institutions are being closed down, the numbers are on the increase.

Romania's Forgotten Children

Story by Ruth SoRelle; Photos by Smiley N. Pool, International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, Journal: March 1998 - Volume 4, Number 3

[accessed 13 July 2011]

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

The three emerged from the subway station like tiny mice, furtive and gray with fatigue and dirt. Ages 8, 10, and 11, they are members of a growing population of homeless and abandoned children who populate the city's streets and sewers.

Born to be Forgotten: 1996

Stories by Ruth SoRelle, Photography by Smiley N. Pool, The Houston Chronicle, Bucharest, 1996

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

[accessed 13 July 2011]

It's been six years since we first saw the pictures of Romania's abused and neglected children. The world recoiled in horror and wondered from afar how this could happen. But what's happened since? Six years isn't long in the history of a nation. But it is forever in the lifetime of a child.

Trafficking of children [PDF]

Report by Barbara Limanowska, Trafficking in Human Beings in Southeastern Europe

[accessed 13 July 2011]

[Turn to: Romania à 1. Overview à 1.2 Trafficking of children]

There are also reports of Romanian children and adolescents in Belgrade living on the streets because they are too old to be placed in institutions. The Romanian Embassy is not interested in repatriating these children and adolescents, and no special programs or services exist for migrant children living on the streets.

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 - Romania",, [accessed <date>]