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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                             

Kingdom of Thailand

With a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand was one of East Asia's best performers from 2002-04, averaging more than 6% annual real GDP growth. However, overall economic growth has fallen sharply - averaging 4.9% from 2005 to 2007 - as persistent political crisis stalled infrastructure mega-projects, eroded investor and consumer confidence, and damaged the country's international image.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Thailand

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


The Bangkok attraction

Jeremy P. Meyer, Denver Post, Bangkok, 08/27/2006

[accessed 30 July 2011]

A portion of the estimated 200,000 to 300,000 sex workers in Thailand are either underage or in involuntary servitude or debt bondage, according to a U.S. State Department report. Homeless street children are the most vulnerable, Capaldi said.

At an underpass in central Bangkok, a group of children waited for a red light to stop traffic. Rats the size of cats scuttled from the bushes, and the boys in tattered shorts and sandals bolted into the street when the cars stopped. They donned sad expressions and pressed their faces on the car windows, seeking change.

One boy, 10-year-old "Ice," said three times a month someone offers to pay him for sex. He always declines. But social workers fear the lure of money will someday change his mind. Ice and his brother sleep on the floor in his grandmother's one-room shack in a shantytown. She makes money by scavenging for scraps of metal while he begs.

A birthday party for kids who don't know their age

Craig and Marc Kielburger, Toronto Star Global Voices, Feb 22 2007

[accessed 30 July 2011]

Many of the street children at the centre had never met their parents because they were left at the door as babies. So once a year, one lucky kid picks a day for "everybody's birthday," which they all celebrate together. We were honoured to attend this party for all the children.

It was organized by the kids themselves – kids who couldn't afford shoes of their own but shined shoes for mere pennies. They saved those pennies one by one to buy simple things, like watermelon, for their celebration.


*** 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 29 December 2010]

CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR - The government maintains a child labor reporting hotline, facilitates the participation of communities in anti-child labor activities, and has initiated a public awareness campaign that includes information about child labor laws.  The Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW) has established shelters for street children and provides child victims legal assistance, including counseling and rehabilitation services.  The Department also provides vocational training to improve children’s skills and prevent them from entering work prematurely.

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 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - There were believed to be approximately 20 thousand street children in major urban centers. The government implemented new guidelines to improve the processing of child trafficking victims from Cambodia and Burma, including child beggars. The children were referred to government-provided shelters, but many reportedly avoided the shelters due to fear of being detained and expelled from the country. Street children were repatriated to Cambodia during the year. According to the government, citizen children were sent to their home provinces and placed in occupational training centers.

Street children were often left out of national reports on child labor issues and national statistics on street children often included only citizens, although the majority were non-citizens.

Street children were often exploited by organized gangs as beggars or to sell flowers or other items. Many of these children were forced to turn over their daily earnings to the gang and were paid less than a dollar a day. There were reports of street children who were bought, rented, or forcibly "borrowed" from their parents or guardians in order to beg alongside women on sidewalks and overpasses. This was particularly true in areas of the capital frequented by tourists. Working conditions for these children were poor, leaving them exposed to the elements for long periods of time and open to further exploitation

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 9 October 1998

[accessed 29 December 2010]

[22] The Committee notes the establishment by the State party of a program to encourage the reinforcement of the family environment and to strengthen parenting skills among both parents. The Committee remains concerned, however, at the high rate of abandonment of children, especially children born out of wedlock and children of poor families. In this regard, the Committee also expresses concern at the lack of adequate alternative care facilities and qualified personnel in this field.

[27] While the Committee notes the high rate of school enrolment, particularly at the primary level, and the recent initiative to establish additional schools in rural communities, it is still concerned that some children, particularly those living in poverty and in nomadic and hill tribe communities, do not have access to education. In the light of the recent economic constraints, the Committee is also concerned at the number of children, particularly girls, leaving school prematurely to engage in labor.

[29] While welcoming the recent adoption of the Labor Protection Act of 1998, in which the minimum legal age for access to work has been increased from 13 to 15 years, the Committee remains concerned at the high rate of economic exploitation, as well as at the increasing number of children leaving school, sometimes at an early age, to work to support themselves and their families.

Abolitionists tell story of Thailand's child sex slaves

Michele Willer-Allred, Ventura County Star, October 13, 2010

[accessed 2 October 2011]

[accessed 15 November 2016]

In 2006, Batstone met Nam in northern Thailand during his research around the world for his seventh book called “Not for Sale.”   Nam said many of the kids she met on the riverbank ranged in age from 8 to 12 and came from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China.

Most had been kidnapped or sold by their parents, and all ended up in the child-sex brothels of Chiang Mai.   Some had escaped from the brothels but feared they would be recaptured. Once in Thailand, the children are considered “stateless” people by the Thai government and are denied identification cards, which are needed to receive government-provided education, health services and employment.

The Forgotten Class - Makeshift weekend schools in Bangkok's slums give hope to children who need it

Pichaya Svasti, Sep 3, 2008 -- Photos by Yingyong Un-Anongrak

[accessed 30 July 2011]

The problems of the students often stem from their own parents. "Many of the parents are homeless and do not think about the future of their kids," said Naphat. "Some children are called by their mothers to leave class and go begging."

The children are eager to have an education, however. According to Naphat, there are 20 children from the Sanam Luang area and more than 10 others under the Arun Amarin Bridge who attend the group's weekend classes voluntarily.

Canada's high level of health care hard to find in developing nations

Ramon Gonzalez, Western Catholic Reporter WCR, Edmonton Canada, Jun 16, 2008

[accessed 30 July 2011]

MASSIVE BIRTHDAY PARTY - Kielburger learned that street children who didn't know their parents, let alone their ages or birth dates, pooled their meagre resources and held one massive birthday party every year. Kielburger cancelled his plans to return to Canada and stayed for the party.  "It was the most remarkable birthday party I'd ever been to," he told the meeting. "This birthday party didn't have a lots of presents, it didn't have a lot of games but it really had a lot of love and compassion and people who cared."

After the party he postponed his trip back to Canada indefinitely and lived in the slums of Klong Toey for almost a year, teaching English to school children and logging many more heart-wrenching days in the AIDS ward, watching many people die.  "This was a remarkable experience because I got to understand what service is all about and what living a life in faith is really all about," he said.  Kielburger returned home and went to Harvard University. But as he told the meeting, the slums of Thailand changed his life. "I learned more about compassion, about leadership and faith from those street kids in the slums of Thailand than I did from any of my professors at Harvard."

Begging some difficult questions

Nattha Keenapan, Bangkok Post, Bangkok, April 2007

[accessed 31 July 2011]

Cambodians make up the largest group of non-Thai beggars in Bangkok.

While earlier studies on begging in Bangkok focused on the fact that many child beggars are forced to beg, a survey published in October last year by the NGO Friends International and the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, entitled The Nature and Scope of the Foreign Child Beggar Issue in Bangkok, suggests that most Cambodian child beggars come voluntarily with their mothers or relatives.

According to Friends International, which works with street children in Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Indonesia, Honduras and now also in Thailand, child beggars rely on informal networks of friends and family to facilitate their journey to and stay in Bangkok.

Academic says ‘open houses’ needed to help street children

Anjira Assavanonda, Bangkok Post, 16 September 2006

[accessed 9 January 2017]

Thailand needs to set up ‘’open houses'’ in border areas to assist street children who have entered Thailand from neighbouring countries, an academic said yesterday. Sompong Chitradub, an education lecturer at Chulalongkorn University who conducted a study on street children in border areas, said their number has increased significantly. These children crossed into Thailand largely from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, said Mr Sompong, who put their total number at about 20,000.  ‘’We also found that many have become victims of child traffickers, who reaped benefits from child labour and beggars. The youngest child victim ever found was three years old,'’ he said.

Tourism enterprises bring hope to the street children of Phuket

Michael Verikios, traveldailynews, July 27, 2006

[accessed 9 January 2017]

A new shelter for homeless children was officially opened in Patong, Phuket district.

The aim of the new shelter is to provide a safe environment for homeless children as they commence a new life away from the streets. It houses up to 30 street children between the ages of 11 – 16 in dormitory style accommodation as well as housing the staff on site. The Home is accessible 24 hours a day to innocent victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment and homelessness, as well as runaways and those facing family crisis. Equipped with modern facilities and run by staff trained in the rehabilitation and counseling of street children, the home will offer a happy environment for children to play, learn and relax in safety.

From thief to “foster father of 50,000 street children

AsiaNews/Ucan, Bangkok, 08/27/2005

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

[accessed 31 July 2011]

Dr Amporn Wathanavongs, “the foster father of 50,000 children” is one of Thailand’s most generous benefactors. Through his non-governmental organization – the Foundation for Rehabilitation and Development of Children and Family (FORDEC) – he runs more than 80 centers aimed at improving conditions for children in Thailand

Migrant Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances [DOC]

Asian Research Centre for Migration (ARCM), Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

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

[accessed 31 July 2011]


MEANS OF ENTERING THAILAND - There are 3 basic ways in which migrant street children enter Thailand: (1) They initially come to sell their labor and later join with Thai street children  (2) They come with their families who enter Thailand to work. The children who are too young to get a job or cannot find a job become street children while their parents are working  (3) They are forced, lured, or willingly come to Thailand to become beggars.

Stories From The Field

[access information unavailable]

Many street children live in the area around Bangkok's main train station. As young as six years old, they live in makeshift shelters under nearby bridges and spend their days hanging around the train station. Lacking adult supervision and healthy role models, these orphans and runaways spend their time begging, scavenging for food, stealing, and doing drugs. Lacking defenses, they are often exploited, including sexually. As time goes on, they begin to trust no one, least of all the police.

Information about Street Children - Thailand [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for East and South East Asia on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 12-14 March 2003, Bangkok, Thailand

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

[accessed 31 July 2011]

Key push factors: family economic pressures / income instability impacting on increasingly fragmented family support structures; inability to support basic needs and education; conflict and violence; children’s search for independence, Personal characteristics / psychology of adolescence,- vulnerability of children aged 12-18 to influences in the environment such as video games and night life; attempted runaway behavior at the age of 13-15 may lead to permanent separation at a later stage.  Education - inappropriate discipline, especially involving humiliation, and lack of understanding by teachers along with lack of family support contributes to dropout.

Youth Camp Hopes To Help Street Children Move Away From The Streets

Asia Child Rights ACR Weekly Newsletter Vol.02, No.17 (23 APR 2003)

[accessed 31 July 2011]

The idea of the camp is to give the children enough time to look at themselves, what they want to do in the future and then guide them with a road map to get there.

Facts and Statistics

Foundation for Children

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

[accessed 31 July 2011]

HOMELESS CHILDREN - A survey of 399 Bangkok street children aged from 1 1/2 -18 years showed that most left home because of family problems.  Since the economic crisis in the late 90's, the streets of Bangkok have become home to more and more children. Glue-sniffing and other drug addictions, theft, unhealthy sexual encounters, malnourishment are among the day to day problems facing these children.

Childlife-A Future For Street Children


[accessed 31 July 2011]

The purpose of Childlife is to provide the street children in Mae Sai with a safe refuge, shelter and home, food, health and non-formal education.

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 - Thailand",, [accessed <date>]