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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                       

The United Kingdom (UK)

The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is one of the quintet of trillion dollar economies of Western Europe. Over the past two decades, the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil resources, but its oil and natural gas reserves are declining and the UK became a net importer of energy in 2005; energy industries now contribute about 4% to GDP. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: UK

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


His killers were street children, fearless and brutal with no remorse

Stewart Tendler, The Times, August 10, 2006

[accessed 4 August 2011]

[accessed 10 January 2017]

Ricky and Danny Preddie were court veterans, loyal only to each other and a gang of thugs.

Danny Preddie had bullied Damilola and is said to have coveted his silver jacket. Ricky is believed to be the gang member who stabbed their victim with a broken beer bottle. “Juking” was a punishment administered to anyone who showed the Young Peckham Boys disrespect or resisted their demands for mobile phones, baseball caps, trainers and cash.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Runaways - Where To Turn For Help Before You Are Homeless

Rebeccas Community -- This is for anyone aged up to 13 years old who is thinking about running away

[accessed 4 August 2011]

Here are the best phone numbers to call …They are Confidential - which means they won't tell anyone about your call unless you want them to talk to somebody for you, or you are in danger.  They are open 24 Hours - it doesn't matter what time you call  In the UK, call 0800 1111

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 - The government provided free, universal, and compulsory education until age 16 and further free education until age 18. UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization statistics recorded 100 percent enrollment of children of primary school age and over 90 percent for those of secondary school age.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] There were reports that children were trafficked into the country and forced to work as domestic servants, beggars, pickpockets, drug couriers, or in sweatshops and restaurants.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 October 2000

[accessed 2 January 2011]

[43] While recognizing the efforts made by the State party in the area of education, the Committee remains concerned at the increasing incidence of truancy and the number of drop-outs from school in some of the Territories, especially the Turks and Caicos Islands and Montserrat.

Helping children turn life around

Paul McMillan, Evening Chronicle, Dec 10 2007

[accessed 3 January 2011]

It follows research by Barnardo’s in 2005 which revealed that 28 children and young people were being sexually exploited through prostitution in Newcastle, with another 136 being at significant risk of being involved. The Children’s Society also found that, on average, 436 under-16s in Newcastle run away every year.

Scarpa opened its doors in October and hopes to have made contact with 40 young runaways and 15 young people who have been sexually exploited in its first six months.

Music saved the street children of Venezuela – could it work for Scotland too?

Ben Hoyle, Arts Reporter, The Times, August 13, 2007

[accessed 4 August 2011]

[accessed 10 January 2017]

In the violent slums of Venezuela, free classical music lessons have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and created an unlikely production line of virtuosos.  For 32 years El Sistema (the System) has tackled the “spiritual poverty” among some of South America’s poorest street children by teaching them to play Bach, Beethoven and Mahler in orchestras.  Now El Sistema is coming to Britain, where project organisers hope that it will rescue a generation of children on one of Scotland’s most notorious housing estates.

Street children given a new life

July 18, 2007

[accessed 10 January 2017]

ANTOINE’S STORY - Hardcore hoodie Antoine is 19 and has spent most of his life on the streets. He has sold drugs and worked as a male prostitute to survive. When you read what the young Londoner – now studying to be a barrister – has endured, you may understand why. …

CHELSEA’S STORY - Chelsea, 17, started selling crack when she was 11 but with the help of tuition from Kids Co is now due to take her GCSEs. …

London's 'white slaves'

Caroline Davies, The Telegraph, 05 Apr 2007

[accessed 4 August 2011]

A new book, White Cargo, tells how children as young as 10 were swept off the city's streets and sent with convicts to work in America several months before the first shipment of African captives arrived in 1619. Authors Don Jordan and Michael Walsh say hundreds of homeless children were rounded up and held in the Bridewell, a workhouse and prison near Blackfriars Bridge.

But, to disguise the fact these children were to be enslaved, officials sold it as giving the underprivileged a new life. In truth, the City of London wanted to get rid of their street children while the merchants behind the company colonising Virginia wanted slave labour.

Call for action to protect street children

Jonathan Traynor, Media & Public Affairs Officer, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People NICCY, 05 February 2007

[accessed 8 Aug  2013]

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, has today called for action to protect children who are being used to beg for money on the streets of Belfast.  Ms Lewsley said she was shocked by continuing reports of children begging at the behest of what appears to be organised gangs.

Book Review: Street Kid: One child's desperate fight for survival  - by Judy Westwater

[access date unavailable]

[accessed 10 January 2017]

I am wary of trivialising her story by reducing it to a list of horrors, but here's a short version as contained in the publicity blurb: "Abducted by her psychotic spiritualist father as a child and kept like a dog in his backyard, Judy Westwater suffered in a Manchester orphanage run by nuns before being taken to South Africa, where she ended up living wild on the streets of Hillbrow and joining the circus.

Determined that her childhood experiences should in some way give meaning to her life, Judy has in adulthood worked tirelessly to help homeless children in South Africa - in the very places she herself suffered."

The book ends when Westwater, aged 17, returned to the UK from South Africa, to seek her mother and sisters. The reunion was anything but loving. It is then noted that Westwater inherited a small legacy and she used this to start projects with street children in South Africa, Mexico and elsewhere.

Child Trafficking in the U.K.

Ambrose Musiyiwa (amusiyiwa), OhmyNews, 2006-07-25

[accessed 3 January 2011]

She was a teenage orphan living on the streets of Nairobi when a man approached her and promised her work in the United Kingdom. He told her she would be working as a house girl.

True to his word, her "savior" brought her into the U.K. -- but instead of placing her with a family the man took her to a brothel, where she was systematically raped, beaten, and forced to work as a prostitute.

Three months later, when the 16-year-old Kenyan girl became pregnant, she was forced to continue sleeping with a succession of men until she was almost due to give birth. The heavily pregnant teenager was then removed from the brothel, driven out of the town where she had been held, and dumped many miles away on the streets of Sheffield.

Consortium for Street Children: Briefing Paper [DOC]

[Last access date unavailable]

There are however three main groups of young people in the United Kingdom who share many characteristics of ‘street children’. These groups are: (1) Children who run away, leave home or who are thrown out – commonly referred to as ‘Runaways’; Homeless; Street homeless or rough sleepers.

Street children and crime in the UK: a case of abuse and neglect

Browne, K. and Falshaw, L. (1998), Street children and crime in the UK: a case of abuse and neglect. Child Abuse Review, 7: 241–253. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0852(199807/08)7:4<241::AID-CAR501>3.0.CO;2-0;2-0/abstract

[accessed 4 August 2011]

Four street work projects that provide information and support to young runaways in the UK are described and their limitations discussed. It is proposed that counseling should be a part of intervention with street children and that trained counselors/psychotherapists should be available free to these young people with social and emotional difficulties


"COMPASS" - A manual on human rights education with young people -- ISBN: 92-871-4880-5 © Council of Europe, May 2002

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[accessed 10 January 2017]

THE STATE OF CHILDREN: FACTS AND FIGURES - In the UK, research indicates that there are many thousands of street children, primarily, though not exclusively, in the major cities and towns. The population of street children is split evenly between males and females. It is estimated that approximately 40000 children run away from home every year.

Book Review: Running the Risk Young People on the Streets of Britain Today by Mike Stein, Gwyther Rees and Nick Frost

[accessed 4 August 2011]

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION - Based on current work with young runaways this survey looks, in particular, at the work of four Children's Society projects in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Gwent. The report examines the causes of running away and the problems face by those who run - some of them as young as 11 years old. It has been revealed that children run away for different reasons: abuse and neglect, changes in family relationships, lack of support or parenting and economic stress - to name a few - and each of these different circumstances may require a different response. The book examines the complex issue from the perpectives of three main groups involved - young people themselves, Children's Society staff and professionals from a variety of agencies who have had contact with young runaways. All aspects of running away are looked at, from identifying those young people who are most likely to run away and discussing why they do so, to evaluating the role of projects designed to help them. It appears that a number of broader social policy issues are implicated, including education and the lack of social status of under 16s living away from home, with nowhere to live, no legitimate source of income and ano link inot state services. The research identifies the need to cater for young people's short-, medium-, and long-term needs through a combination of prevention and mediation work, via facilities such as school and youth clubs, and by providing contact, refuge, advice and counselling to young people.


[accessed 4 August 2011]

Shelter is a national organisation with local solutions working to improve the lives of homeless and badly housed people. There has been a 200,000 rise in UK children living in poverty last year. Every Year, Shelter charity campaigners are helping over 100,000 people who are homeless or living in bad housing conditions.

Dying for change

The Big Issue in the North

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

[accessed 4 August 2011]


VIEW FROM THE EDGE - Once a young person is homeless, things can rapidly deteriorate. Many homeless people suffer from mental health problems and are not receiving help. Hartshorn believes this is a particular problem for younger men who tend to bottle their problems up.

Homelessness and Education: Research from Britain and America

Comparative Education Research Centre CERC, University of Hong Kong, CIES96: 40th Annual Meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society, Williamsburg, Virginia, March 6- 10, 1996

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

[accessed 4 August 2011]

PANEL ABSTRACT - The last fifteen years have seen an unprecedented increase in homelessness in both Britain and the United States. While young single people sleeping on the city streets is often the most visible form of homelessness, the number of homeless households with young children is growing substantially. The relationship between homelessness and education has received relatively little attention on either side of the Atlantic.

Habitat UK national report 2001

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Creating Sustainable Communities

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

[accessed 4 August 2011]

UK CONTEXT - Homelessness: 105,000 households were legally defined as homeless in 1999. The UK definition means having no permanent home. Councils must give priority to groups such as families with children and vulnerable groups such those with disability. There are also small numbers with literally no roof, known as rough sleepers. The number of rough sleepers has reduced by over one third, from 1850 to 1180 in two years.




Centrepoint Reveals Exploitation Of Homeless Young People

European Federation of National Organizations working with the Homeless, 4/21/2005

[accessed 8 Aug  2013]

[accessed 10 January 2017]

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“Nearly a third of homeless young people surveyed admit to suffering from stress, illness and depression due to their debts, many believe they are prevented from a better future because they owe money they cannot repay.

Rough Sleepers Unit

Parliament home page > Parliamentary business > Publications and Records > Hansard > Commons Debates > Commons Debates by date > Commons Debates - previous sessions > Bound Volume Hansard - Written Answers

[accessed 4 August 2011]

The RSU has already invested over £2 million from its Special Innovation Fund to put in place education, training and employment schemes around the country that have helped over 2,500 former rough sleepers to make the move to independent living.

The children and young people we work with

[access information unavailable]

The city street is a place of refuge and a place of danger. It is an alternative to rural poverty and to family violence, but it is home too to those who would take advantage of vulnerable children, perhaps to exploit them financially, or sexually. Some children live there - eat, play, work and sleep.

New Government drive to help young runaways

Tony Blair, New Government drive to help young runaways, 22 March 2001

[Last access date unavailable]

[accessed 10 January 2017]

A quarter of those who run away will sleep on the streets, and some will survive through begging, stealing drug dealing and prostitution. As many as 10,000 runaways suffer physical or sexual abuse while they are away from home.

Runaway Children To Get Help

BBC News, 22 March, 2001

[accessed 4 August 2011]

Every year 77,000 British children under 16 run away from home for at least one night.  Many flee physical or mental abuse at home, and a quarter end up sleeping on the streets with some surviving through begging, stealing, drug dealing and prostitution.

The consultation report was launched on Thursday by Tony Blair, who said it was important to find out why so many children run away and why so many are reluctant to return home again.

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