Runaway Children: Causes and Strategies for Protection
Disclaimer: This dissertation has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional dissertation writers. You can view samples of our professional work here.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.
Surprisingly there is less knowledge to our public of the significance of runaway children and their problems particularly in less developed Asian countries which include Pakistan. A general statistics collected by the police department which is not an exact estimate and this wrong data might lead to this problem being intense. Subsequently, with elapsing time this problem is becoming more serious due to deteriorating financial and political condition and coming into consideration of the government. Therefore the government of Punjab with help of UNICEF on 17 March 2003 at Lahore initiated an organization named (CPWB) Child Protection and Welfare Bureau. This is the most renowned organization operating presently in Pakistan dealing with the problems of runaway children quite efficiently with foreign helps on a large scale. It is aimed for the recovery, rescue, and rehabilitation of poor and destitute children involved in abuse, beggary, burglary, neglected and exploitation by adults. A number of institution of CP and WP are being operated in major cities of Pakistan which include 2 branches in Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan ad Faisalabad.
With the name of ALLAH ALMIGHTY we were able to finish our research paper. This research was conducted with the support of the organization named CHILD PROTECTION AND WELFARE BUREAU. We greatly thank the staff members of CP & WB for the cooperation. Special thanks is placed to “ Mr. Roa Khalil Ahmad” the “Assistant Director” for guiding us throughout our visit to the Bureau and arranging a productive interview with “Muhammad Amin Malik” the “Child Protection Officer” of the bureau. Responsibility of the research paper remains with the group members which include “Furqan Fasahat”, “Kanza Munir”, “Sana Rizwan”, “Maliha Zahid” and “Amna Mahmood”.
Problems of runaway children
The term “Runaway Children” is referred to those kids or youngsters who have been found missing from home for about a few days. This is a voluntary act by the children who face miserable financial and family issues which cause them to leave their homes and become a part of public places.
Due to lack of knowledge and understanding the concept or idea of lost and missing children is less acknowledged among people of Pakistan, although it is a serious issue which is considerably growing with time. In Pakistan there is less documentation in the relevant department which lead to lack of essential information on this serious social issue.
This has been under notice by UNICEF for a long period of time because this problem is quite serious and prevalent in Asian countries especially Pakistan being a less developed nation is a major victim of it. As the financial and political conditions of Pakistan are deteriorating with time this problem has come under notice by the Government of Pakistan from recent years and necessary steps have been taken at a large scale in order to deal with this problem.
All the children are in growing process so it is natural that they are emotionally immature. In this developing age appropriate freedom for communication and proper space to express their emotions and views should be provided. When this lacks and no family support is provided a feeling of loneliness cause them to runaway.
Runaway is regarded as a serious social issue. The children who leave their homes voluntarily face miserable domestic conditions which are at times intolerable. The experiences faced by these runaway children include neglect ion, physical and sexual abuse, parental disputes which gives a sense of insecurity, sibling rivalry, failure in studies or exams and the fear of parents.
The first, foremost subtopics under consideration which are to be researched are the causes and circumstances which cause the young children to run away from their homes. This is assigned to Maliha Zahid. The second subtopic which needs to be discussed is the problems faced by children when they run away and this will be covered by M. Furqan Fasahat. The third domain which is important is the effects on the society and to be done by Amna Mahmood. Moreover, the NGOs are to be researched for this topic, and its role played in the dealing with this issue in Lahore and is worked upon by Sana Rizwan. Lastly, the criminal activities in which these children get involved will be discussed by Kanza Munir.
These above stated aspects will be worked upon by us in this research project. This topic is quite vast and more areas can also be covered to enhance the research which includes that do the children desire to go back home, or prefer living in other places. Furthermore, the research can be further enhanced by looking into the struggle of parents in finding their missing children. But these aspects are not to be discussed or researched.
The topic being focused in our research is “Runaway Children”. The forces and circumstances responsible for runaway, practice by children, and their rescue and protection against exploitation.
According to Rana Asif Habib, convener of initiator, there are around 10000 children in Pakistan who live in the streets. A research conducted revealed that among the runaway children 66% are victim of violence at home, education center and work place. Only in Karachi, 30000 of these children are deprived of homely comfort and are exposed to drug and sexual abuse. In order to protect, the need of legislation on child right is stressed. At least in Punjab there is a Bill of 2004 for “Destitute and Neglected Children Protection”, whereas other provinces are without any legislation. Therefore shelters and rehabilitation centers must be set up and run by state, health services and education facilities must be provided to the destitute children. On the recommendation of the UNCRC committee drafted a bill which is further waiting for legislation regarding child rights.()
The Pakistan Penal Code section 89 has made corporal punishment lawful which rather spoils the confidence of child to exist as a respectable person. It plays rather a negative role and discourages children from going to schools. Humaira Butt, SPARC School Project coordinator, said that there must be other ways besides corporal punishment, which can be effective in making discipline. It is revealed that because of corporal punishment 50% of the children runaway from schools and increases the rate of runaway children.
The most common reason why children run away is divorce and parental disputes. The second danger is the pressure of “predators” present everywhere in our community, and it's difficult to recognize them as they look like the “guy next door”. The next is the abduction of children by their non custodial parents for using them for their own selfish interest. Fourthy many children are abducted and sold for body parts due to the underground business in practice on internet. Young girls are in danger of being kidnapped and sold for prostitution. Many children run away because of abuse and neglect by their foster parents. In developed countries like USA an “Amber Alert” system in developed. “Police can act on tips to locate a missing child” which is encouraging.
The article deals with an encouraging factor that the director of the film Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, and the producer, Christian Colson, set up a charity trust Jai Ho for helping poor children in Mumbai, India.
The NCRC bill does not enjoy redressal power and same is with NCCWD. Problems in budget allocation in the health and education sector for children also exits. The committee is against the tendency of corporal punishment giving to school going children, because it lowers the literacy rate further in Pakistan. Another tragedy is the non registration of 70% of children at the time of birth, and the bonded labor practices in many industries and informal sectors, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable children prohibiting slavery and all form of forced labor. Though Employment of Children Act 1991 exists yet the awareness is non existent so no one report to the police and judiciary. The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) is deeply concerned that the minimum age of criminal responsibility continues to remain very low (7 years) therefore government should raise it to an internationally acceptable level. The number of children in prisons is high and number of juvenile courts, trained lawyers and probation officers is insufficient.
Faisal Kamal Pasha and Obaid Abrar Khan, Friday, September 11, 2009. The News
It is told that Pirwadhai bus stand provide information's that mostly there runaway belongs to families facing object poverty, illiterate and orphans. These children get involved in drugs and some are addicts of sniffing an adhesive. The city police officer Rao Muhammad Iqbal said that these children are sent to the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau. The CP and WB have recovered 1251 children from March 2008 as reported.
Edhi, the social worker of Edhi Foundation, arranged a bus from Karachi to Lahore to recruit children who were lost or had run away. Social worker says that Pakistan has a large population of runaway children or lost children, estimating their number at more than 20,000. Naveed Hasan Khan of Azad Foundation estimates that there are 13,000 to 15,000 in Karachi alone and the number in increasing. The UN, UNICEF estimates that there are 10,000 in Karachi. Due to poverty some parents are reluctant to receive their children from Edhi Homes, and also some children do not want to go back.
The articles reviewed in this research give the factual detail regarding the certain barriers which contradict the final solution of the problems. Though the NGO's and social workers work with vigor to eradicate this evil yet the responsibility of the state is the first and foremost demand. Government institutions like Police and judiciary must play its adequate role required for addressing the cases with iron hands. Budget must be allocated to the centers of rehabilitation to let the victims get protection. Social values must be up held, especially at the domestic front. Parents and relatives must perform their duty towards small children. Instead of fighting on their own disputes the must be forced to safeguard the basic rights of their of springs. After all the parents are responsible for the upbringing of children, if they cannot take care of the tender hearts why at all they had the privilege to be called parents. Poverty must be lessened and education be made accessible to all in order to stop children runaway.
- What are the causes and circumstances of running away?
- What are the problems faced by children who runaway?
- What role is played by the NGO's for supporting runaway children?
- What are the effects on the society of these runaway children?
- What kind of criminal activities take place?
- What are the major reasons for running away from home and family
- Which is the most common age for running away
- Description of the abuses and strange experiences faced by children which caused them to runaway
- Where do the children go after running away?
- How do these children survive?
- How are they treated by the people around the outside world?
- What difficulties are faced by them?
- How do the bureau contact their parents?
- What type of background do these children have?
- How the NGO support them?
- How is the issue handled by the ngo's?
- What is their behavior when they are rescued by the organization?
- What problems the organization face in handling such children?
- From where do these children come from?
- What are the social effects on the society of street children?
- Details of the main places in Lahore for runaway children.
- Description of the psyche of runaway children
- What are the measures and steps taken for these runaway children
- Who helps in promoting criminal activities?
- What incentives are provided to such children?
- Reasons for being involved in criminal activities?
- Which sector of the society is involved in exploiting these children?
Research and methodology
While the research was conducted, the first visit to the bureau was dated 26-03-2011 but it was not much productive. Only a meeting with the assistant director “Rao Khalil Ahmad” was possible in which the main topic of the research, goals and the purpose of visit was explained. In addition, a copy of interview question which were to be asked by the organization representative and the runaways, were handed over and the date and time of the interview was assigned by the assistant director. In exchange a handout of brief history, background and establishment of the bureau was given. The assigned date of the interview was 02-04-2011 and proved successful. The Child Protection Officer, “Muhammad Amin Malik” gave a well prepared and satisfactory interview which greatly helped in the research paper. The interview involved all the group members of which four were asking questions and one was busy in recording the movie of the interview. The answers of the interview questions were noted on the interview sheets provided by the instructor and were later signed and stamped by the CPO person. Second interview was with the runaway children in the bureau and while moving to the department of children the surroundings of the organization were keenly observed. Each child was asked similar questions, that is reason for running away, strange experiences if any, any involvement in criminal activities etc. Moreover, 20 questionnaires were prepared and filled in by the general public and the sample included students of LSE and family members.
The interview with the CPO provided ample information relating to the organization, history and background of the problem plus the bureau. Different experiences quoted by affected children were separated related to each domain and helped in analyzing the topic well. The annual report of bureau provided exact facts, figures, dates and statistical information in detail of the organization. The answers of the filled questionnaires were decoded in Microsoft Excel and statistically analyzed in Stat graphics.
Analysis of data and discussion
Causes and reasons
Children who run away from home are typically fueled by an overload of depression, anxiety, a sense of loneliness and alienation from their families and society. These kids often feel as if they have little support in times of trouble and no where to run when things get tough. Unfortunately for some children, parents realize too late there's a problem and the child ends up a runaway on the streets. Many children run away because their parents or legal guardian abuse and belittle or neglected them. (Anonymous, 2011). The precise number of runaway children in Lahore, or across the country is unknown. Estimates by organizations working with street children suggest there are at least 5,000 in the city at any one time, with the largest number based on Data Durbar or on the railway station. The charitable Eidhi foundation , which houses runaway children and attempts to unite them with parents estimates there are at least 10,000 such children in Karachi alone. By the end of 2003 there had been 30% increase across the country in children leaving homes. They leave mostly due to domestic violence or acute social economic hardships (focus on runaway children, report, 2004 September, 8). The survey carried out on runaway children in which people where asked that would they leave there home if they have lack of resources and love, approximately 80% children disagreed on this, while 25% agree on this. According to the survey boys run away from home more than girls as boys are more aggressive and its difficult for them to control their anger . most of the children run in the age group between 10 to 16 and the main reason for running is parent dispute (appendix A and C).The first thing which comes in our mind is, who are runaway children and how can a child run from his home. What are the causes and reason due to which a child leaves his home? Home! the place which is known as heaven on earth. How this heaven becomes hell for that child? Are children forced to leave the home or they leave it by themselves. Children are innocent figure how they can be ready to face the difficulties of the evil world outside their home or the home they are leaving in is actually filled with evil people? Where these children go after running from their homes and what sort of difficulties they face. How does NGOs help them and rescue these sorts of children. In which sort of criminal activates these children usually get involved and what sort of impact these children have on society as these children are the future of our nation. To get answer of all these questions our group carried out a research on this topic as it's the most important problem which are society is facing. The domain of my topic is causes and reasons due to which children leave their home. Nowadays( Renee, 2000) the reason for leaving home are far more tragic, things such as seriously eroded family condition where children feel neglected or unloved or they are abused. Children feel that if they don't run away they may end up dead. According to Dr Krishna Prasad, (2000) said all children are basically insecure, as they are emotionally immature. This immaturity is a part of the growing process. Each day they become more and more secure if the family is a close knit one with enough freedom for communication and emotional expression. Thus children runaway due to different reasons such as constant quarrels of parents ,causing insecurity and hatred in child's heart , if they feel unloved , fear of physical danger like father beating the child for wrong doing, fear that there would be withdrawal of emotional support for wrong doings.( 2000,runaway syndrome, psychology4all.com ) . Runaway children belong to different classes and have different reasons for running. Most of them belong to lower class. Children run from villages and come to cities as they think they can earn more money and live a better life. But after leaving their homes they get into wrong hands and get involved in criminal activities.
Poverty is one of the main cause due to which 60% of the children leave their homes as there is no concept of family planning in our country(Pakistan) that's why the budget is more than the income ,so it is not possible for a poor person to fulfill his family's needs. As the person can not fulfill his children's wants and needs so he forces them to earn many in any case. For this reason the children try to earn money from illegal ways such as they get involved into criminal activities, they start begging, stealing etc. many children don't want to work and so they end up leaving their homes because for them it is the last option. . In a recent interview conducted from a runaway child (Personal communication, March 26, 2011), named Ahmed Raza he told that he left his home due to the bad conditions of his home. He had 3 brothers and 4 sisters, so it was difficult for his father to support such a huge family that's why his father used to beat him and told him to do work and earn money but he didn't wanted to do that, so he left his home. Sometimes a child doesn't want to leave home but he is forced by his family members to do so as they don have enough money to fulfill their basic needs so they leave them to different NGOs. Or sell them to people so they can use the children for illegal things. I witnessed this thing myself when I visited child protection bureau (CPB). A man came along with her daughter to leave her to the government department, that girl was crying and saying that she didn't wanted to stay there his father said that he would come to meet her. The man took some money from the employee of bureau and left her there. When investigated from the people of bureau they said that the girl had ran from the place she used to work and that the man rescued her and came to drop her to the NGO so they can find her parents and send her back. . The organization was double-dealing or not I don't have any idea but I observed it. Many children run due to their father or mother mite be ill or having a swear disease which may also be caused due to poverty. Poverty is one thing which can ruin a blissful family just with in no time. In a recent interview conducted from an employee (Mohamed Amin Malik), working in a government department (CBI), told that a child, whom their team rescued, on asking the reason of leaving home he told that her father had cancer and he had three sisters and its very difficult for him to support them so he ran from home to get some work, so that he can help out this family.
According the child protection officer (CPO) of CPB, the main reason due to which children runaway from home is due to neglect ion which is caused due to broken family or if the child is orphan and lives with his relatives . A child needs both mother and father's love and care but if one isn't present they mite not feel secure and would feel unloved and if both are not present then their life becomes miserable. There differen5t cases in broken families, sometime father had done second marriage and doesn't allow the child t o meet his mother and the stepmother can be bad with the child so the child have only one way out that he should leave that hell. In recent interview (Personal communication, March 26, 2011) conducted from a runaway child who was not normal child. He told that he ran from his home because his father used to hit him and didn't allowed him to meet his mother, so he ran from home because he wanted to live with his mother but as he was not normal he was unable to find his mother. the second reason due to which children run from their home is when their parents are no longer in the world to take care of them and they live with there grandparents , aunts or other relatives . What may come relatives can not draw a comparison with parents. If a child lives with his aunt she can never gives her/him proper time , care and love as she gives to her own children due to this the child feel neglected.. Some relatives also take work from the children and also abuse them if they don't do work they abuse them due to these reasons the child end up leaving that place .A.Akbar (Personal communication, March 26, 2011) told that he had three brothers and one sister . His parents were dead and he used to leave with his aunt. His aunt didn't wanted him to live with her; she used to beat him so he left that place .When he was rescued by the CPB ,they informed his aunt that Akbar is with us but she refused to take him back .
There are many different reasons due to which children leave their home .Sometimes its not big reason due to which children leave their homes but unfortunately it becomes. children are innocent and if parents only yell at them they get hurt and just leave their home and go to their relatives or friends place it's the duty of relatives or friends to report their parents if their child comes to their place other then giving him more liability.
Sometimes children run if their parent doesn't give them proper time as they give to their other siblings. In this way the child feel neglected and start hating his parents and run from his home although he isn't aware of the after affects of this. Children may run due to fight between siblings and parent doesn't stop them from doing this. They may take their fight as a normal thing but it can make a huge disaster. Many children run because they don't want to study and their parents beat them if they don't get good results. If a child fails he/she gets scared that his/her parents would beat him/her, so only one option is left for him/her to run away from his home.
A person is recognized by the companionship he possesses. One of the reason due to which children run away from home is peer influence. If they belong to a bad company the chances of running increases. Nowadays children listen more to their friends then to their parents. Kasim (Personal communication, March 26, 2011) told that he came to data durbar with his friends to eat rice and the CPB team rescued him from there. He just came to enjoy with his friends from his home town (Jarawaral). When investigated from the bureau people they told that the boy had ran twice from his home and the main reason due to which he ran is that he doesn't want to do work so he ran from home with his friends
There are many different cases due to which children run from their homes from which some of the reasons and causes have been explained after research. This problem is still not solved and increasing day by day. Measures should be taken to solve this problem other wise it would become havoc for our society. Though runaway has become a serious problem , we as adults are able to control it by understanding the hearts of children and giving them loving care .it is possible to change the way of thinking, behavior and emotional status of children while they are growing .(runaway children-an overview ,2008)
Problems faced after running away
The literal meaning of runaway children are the kids who voluntarily are found missing from their homes at least a few days without taking permission from their parents or caretaker usually due to intolerant domestic conditions or violence The topic of research paper is Run Away Children, and the domain on which the research is being conducted is problems faced by these run away children after running away from their homes.
According to the Child Protection Officer, Muhammad Ameen Malik (Child Protection Center, Shalamar), there have been thirty two thousand two hundred and eighty four children rescued from 2005 till now. However according to the UNICEF report there are forty thousand still on streets who are either forced or have deliberately left their homes. The runaway ratio is increasing year by year and is around forty to fifty percent. Run away cases are mostly from the cities of Punjab and Sindh. These children are mostly from the lower middle class families who have low family income and are suffering from continuous family problems. The main reasons that force these children to run away can be listed as parental dispute, peer pressure, poverty, siblings' rivalry and work pressure.
In certain cases parental dispute exceeds to such an extent that the small minds of children get confused. They become victims of fear of the breakage in the parent's relationship. The frequent clashes, disagreements and constant turmoil spoil the inner happiness of young hearts, because they demand peace, love and attention which do not exist. Their dream of a happy home shatters and they shun all negative and leave. Work and peer pressure are also a major reason of running away. Often boy at the age of seven or eight years are forced by their parents to work and earn money for their livelihood. Some of them are sent to workshops and others to road side inns, where the heartless cruel owners, the so called “ustad jee”, treat these innocent souls ruthlessly. Often being punished by these “masters”, and consistently rebuked. These small bread winners of the house get over matured before time, discuss things with their co-workers about the luxuries and freedom of others boys of their age enjoy. Often they see kids of their own age traveling in large cars and being pampered by their parents. As a result they revolt. They are left with no other alternative and in search of a better life they run away without realizing the true nature of the city life where wolfs are ready to maltreat them. One reason is an unhealthy criticism regarding education and other attributes. This can be classified as siblings' rivalry. At times parents start comparing their own children with one another. Often the younger brother feels that he has no importance in the family because he faces discouragement at every spot. In order to prove his strength he decides to go to his own way to at least avoid a situation where he imagines himself as unwanted and disrespected, which gives rise to hatred and the ignorant figure. Poverty is the most imminent reason behind this misfortune. In poverty stricken homes the inhabitants loses human compassion and becomes distrustful for other members of the family unit. Complaint of lack of food, clothes, education and shelter snatches away love and cares of a demanding and eager child. Moreover the constant insult and thrashing contribute in creating a breach and results breaking up the links.
Due to the reasons mentioned above children leave their homes. The question now arises that how do these children leave their cities? What mean of transport do they use to do this? And where do these children finally land up? According to the interviews conducted and the information collected from the management of the Child Protection Center these run away children acquired different modes of transport. Mostly they sit in trains from their local railway stations having no knowledge of their next destination. They are often drifted along on different directions, friendless and penniless. In an alien environment these fear stricken ignorant beings, in search of shelter, roam about from one place to another in quest of being recognized and acknowledged by the big city's complex activities. And from here their difficult entourage of life takes a new turn.
After leaving homes there is danger awaiting at every step. The basic problem faced by these children is shelter, and then comes the problem of hunger. Both of these create havoc in life of these runaways. In our Islamic God fearing society the problem of hunger can be met by visiting certain center of free food but shelter is next to impossible. This shows these children the truth that they stand nowhere, no identification, no background and devoid of love and affection, they now have to make their own way into life yet threatened by dangers at every step. During day time they stay on roads but long nights are difficult to spend. They sleep on footpaths and outside the garden walls and later make friendship with other vagabonds, and tramps. The pangs of hunger force them to do all sorts of labor sometimes wiping the screen of cars and collecting pennies in return for buying food. Moral and social destructions are the consequences they face, finally one by one entangled by all bad habits. Another problem faced by the runaway children is they join the gang of villains who wickedly train these children as street beggars. At every crossing on traffic signals small children comes up asking for money which is not for their own use but to satisfy the whims of the criminal minded gangsters, thus entering into the hideous world of sinful people. Victimized by the wicked people all sorts of abuse they are exposed to and thus pay the price of leaving the security of their homes. Destruction then has no limits, sometimes these children are arrested by police and are sent to prison but police again cannot put a check on their activities. Thus they grow up as criminals and plague the society. Many of these children also get involved in drugs. Most of the beggars turns into hideous sinful criminal and are also found addicted to drugs. They are involved in selling drugs to students and youngsters. This deadly poison destroys the health and becomes the cause of many fatal consequences. They not only spoil their own life but involve the future of our nation, the youth, by exposing them to drug addiction.
The runaway children in the Child Protection Center helped in doing the research properly. The children interviewed were five in number of different ages, different backgrounds and different reason for running away. One of the children was 10 years old; he said that his step mother beats him so he ran away from home. When asked the question of what kind of problems he faced the answer was that he had no money and had no place to live. He started polishing shoes of people at the railway station from where he earned money to buy food. He said that he was also approached by a guy who told him to take drugs but the child refused. These children have faced many problems on streets before they were rescued by the Child Protection Bureau. The research also contains a questionnaire which showed me that mostly the runaway children are males with age group from 10 to 16. The common answer in the question about what problems they face was getting into wrong hands.
Our society must play an adequate role for safety of our youngsters from falling in drug addiction at the hands of such people. Police must be active and trustworthy. As it is said “hate the sin not the sinner” therefore this must be tackled with iron hands. It is of vital importance that the general public must pay attention to this social responsibility. Public opinion must play a significant role and save our generation from ruin. Our educational institutions, our health sciences programs all must come forward to keep a check over runaway children so that they may be sent back to their homes in security. The state is responsible for the safety of every citizen, so the authorities must look into the matter which is growing at a fast rate. It must be eradicated from the roots. Every member of our society must play a role and undertake a responsibility not to close eyes on the question of street children. If the parents, the society, the institutions and the health sciences fulfill their duties no vagabond will be around, no spoil children, no tramp would ruin their life. State must be vigilant in providing basic necessities to its population. Make these members of society a fruitful asset, rather than a destructive element by snatching their basic rights. Every man must be respected and justice must prevail. No mother is made to suffer the pangs of pain for her runaway child. No father should be made to pay for his poverty stricken conditions. Let the innocent souls develop and grow in peaceful environment where none of the young heart ever thinks of leaving the parents no matter what happens.
The role of organizations
The role of non-government organizations (NGO'S) has been very crucial in supporting homeless, needy and runaway children. I will be discussing the role of such organizations in supporting runaway children. The literal meaning of runaway children are the kids who voluntarily are found missing from their homes at least a few days without taking permission from their parents or caretaker usually due to intolerant domestic conditions or violence.
Such organizations have an aim of creating friendly, relaxed and a fearful environment for run away children. So that they live their lives in a better condition and in protective hands. Such organizations though try their best to provide a full fledged home like environment and fulfill their needs and provide them with physical and mental comfort along with standardized residential, education vocational and recreational facilities and children enjoy every moment of their live and turn up to be a well groomed individual of the society . The major contribution of such organizations is to trace out the families and send the children back who are willing to go, are returned back safely .Raja Muhammad Rafique has an NGO in Karachi is also very effectively serving since 1992 for this very cause all around Pakistan. As mentioned in a newspaper article (2009).reuniting missing children. The News.
One of such organization is Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB) which came into being on 01 JULY 2004 under the act of “The Punjab Destitute And Neglected Children Act” and on 25th February 2005 permission was granted by the chief minister of Punjab to start its working. It is located at Shalamar link road Angori Bagh Scheme ,Lahore. zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report,2007).CPWB is the the first governmental organization in Asia serving such cases, and since 2005 it is serving to its best.
In a recent interview (A.Malik , personal communication, April 02, 2011) I learned that mostly the runaways are professional they are associated with begging or are linked to dangerous gangs. The organization has to pass through several procedures before and after rescuing the victims. The foremost and the difficult task are to rescue the chid. The (CPWB) have their reception centers (ORS) located at “lari Adda”, Minar-e Pakistan and Data Darbar in Lahore. The reason for setting up at such location is that after running away the runaways mostly reside at such places in order to find shelter and food and secondly easy access to transportation. Beside these there are reception centers at major and big cities of Pakistan where a sufficient number of run away are found includes Karachi, Multan, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi. From small districts runaways also reside at these places and are rescued by the members of (CPWB) which are working very efficiently. They mostly rescue begging children and they judge runaways from their physical and mental appearance. Some children are also handed over to (CPWB) indirectly as informed by the police station, other NGO's and some contribution of public. Then certain operations are carried out in order to rescue them.
All the members have to develop a polite and friendly behavior with such children in order to get hold of them physically as well as mentally. As some children after even being rescued they try every mean of running away from their hands as well. They cant be trusted at such an early age. After being rescued the child is taken to child protection unit (CPU) located within the Bureau and the child is to stay there until his family is traced out or their family members turn up to take them with them .In this section each and every child is given full attention and importance and is provided with clothing hygienic food and proper medical facilities under the observation of well trained ad qualified officers. There is a doctor who looks after them on regular bases. Now a days the actively serving doctor is Dr.Ahmed Nadeem. Zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report, 2007)
From the (24th February 2004 till 30th June 2007) a total of 4353 children were rescued through efficient techniques and hard wok of the officers and amongst them 3964 were successfullyunited with their families. with in 7-8 days of the rescue the families are traced out. Dr.Ahmed Nadeem. Zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report, 2007)
This indicates that the Bureau works efficiently and with full responsibility. The remaining children are then kept in (CPU) until they reach the ager of 18 and become sensible enough to walk on the straight path. Zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report,2007)After being a part of (CPU) unit the child is treated medically. They are given full medical treatment as there is a danger that they might be carrying harmful diseases like AIDS, hepatitis and many others. According to some statistics mentioned by zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report,2007) About 30% of such children are addicted to various forms of drugs .Adhesive glue/samad bond are amongst the most common and cheapest form of drug addiction along with petrol and thinner. Few other forms include cigarette, tobacco, cannabis, heroin and alcohol. The estimated age of such children is between 12-14. Despite of this such children are victims of HIV and (53.4%) are sexually abused. Such affected children are brought to rehabilitation centers where the child is tested for HIV/AIDS and are vaccinated. Moreover psychological counseling is also carried out and results in a conclusion that such children have a metal level development 5 to 7 years beyond their age. The children are very confident and bold. Drug addictive children are given proper treatment under detoxification centers. Well trained and experienced doctors are serving for this purpose.
To treat and handle such children the members of the organization first have to built trust and understanding with the child as such children are very unpredictable , they find means to run away from the organization. In a recent interview ( A. Amin , personal communication, April 04,2011)I learned that in order to create a friendly relationship with the children he personally arranges trips for children in a group of 20-25 children along with his team in which they test that how much can the children be trusted ?some clever children do try to escape unnoticed but they fail without realizing that they are under observation. Here he quoted an experience of a child who belonged to (Duniya Dar) a small village who tried running away when one such trip was organized. But later he became an active member of the bodyguard team who look after children when they are take to trips. This was all the result of Amin Malik's effort that he groomed him to developed trust for him. passion along with dealing tricks are required in handling them.
After giving shelter to the child in (CPU) within 24-hours of rescue that victim is presented in the child protection court (CPO) where the children are given the right to be enrolled in the bureau. And certain personal information is acquired form them. Some of them are willing to tell where as some are not. The children whose families are not traced out are then allowed to stay in (CPU) till they reach the age of 18.where they are given full care and their needs are fulfilled .they are provided with proper hygienic food, clothing, shelter ,medical care, education along with vocational and recreational facilities. The child protection and welfare bureau has a small school with the name of child protection institution (CPI) where they are assured standard education till grade 5 which is affiliated with Punjab board. The first batch of 200 students appeared in board examination in July 2006 and was passed out successfully. Zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report,2007)
The number of boys is more then the number of girls who are admitted to (CPI) as the number of running away boys is greater than girls. As the girls work at people's houses as maids and stay there.Number of boys enrolled in (CPI's school) from 2005-5007 was 2963 where as number of girls was 462. And number of boys enrolled in vocational training center was 200 and girls were only 22. Zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report,2007)The children who do not want to gain education are given vocational training which tends to improve their technical skills and enhance their earning potential different trades like painting, embroidery, tailoring and Adda work being taught. zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report,2007)
Beyond all this the children are provided with recreational facilities indoor and outdoor games. Along with this competitions are arranged on regular basis to enhance their skills and potentials. Beside all this (CPWB) has a juvenile section. This is especially established for such runaway children who are in jail in order or committing any crime. After such children are freed from the jail (CPWB) takes such children into their custody, so they groom them into well groomed individuals of the society and show them the right path so they do not get indulged in to criminal activities again. some members of the organization keeps on visiting the respective jails where as such children reside and psychological counseling is conducted and efforts are made to trace their families. From 2005-2007 a total of 585 such cases were brought to the organization amongst them 105 were successfully reunited with their families. Zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report,2007)
Despite of all these contributions a one very contribution of child protection and welfare bureau (CPWB) is the agreement with United Nations and UNICEF. According to this it has been agreed upon the missing or runaway children from Pakistan are sent to UAE and other Gulf States to make them participate in the Camel Jockey should be returned to Pakistan through safer means. A delegation from Pakistan headed by Dr. Faiza Asgher who is the advisor on children rights government of Punjab and country representative UNICEF visited UAE on 7-8 May and an agreement was signed between UNICEF and UAE government that they would return the children back to their respective countries. First group of camel jockey children was sent to Lahore on 21st June 2005 and in 2006 eight groups were received. Until 20006 331 children were received Out of them until know 325 have been reunited with their families and 6 are in the custody of CPWB where they are been looked upon. zubair Ahmed (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report,2007)An article was published in the post Lahore. A story of two boys who were rescued by (CPWB) team two years back. Anayat Ali and Ijaz Ali. They are very thankful to the organization for supporting themThe boys showed no keen interest in studies but the two of them were really very good at painting,drawing and embroidery.when they were traced by the organization they were on drugs and in a really bad condition.but they are really thankful to the organization and stated that they would prefer staying with the organization as compared to going back home .According to the art teacher at CPWB they are really full of talent and intelligent.there is no professional teacher there to guide them but still they make everything out of their best(Arshad,R.(2008.A tale of two talented boys at CPWB. The post Lahore)
A child after spending 3 memorable years of his life in Child protection and welfare Bureau say that he he very thankful the organization for making his life nad guiding him on the straight path.he was found by the members of (CPWB) outside Data Darbar.when his family turned up to take him with them he simple refused as he realized that he was spending a better life at the bureau than he can spend anywhere else. He has enev master of hand emboidey. (as cited in Child protection Bureau Annual report,2007-2008)
Effects on the society
The literal meaning of runaway children are the kids who voluntarily are found missing from their homes at least a few days without taking permission from their parents or caretaker usually due to intolerant domestic conditions or violence.
With growing industrialization and increasing urbanization a considerable number of social evils and problems are raising in the society, which has lead to violation of human rights and social injustice. According to UNICEF, runaway children are quite prevalent in Asian countries and especially Pakistan being a third world country is a victim of it. The weak financial conditions, political instability in less developed nations give rise to many social problems among which runaway children is a serious issue and is growing day by day. A considerable number of poor children are found on streets of main cities of Pakistan, this proves the fact that Pakistan has been signatory to Child rights commission of United Nations for around past 15 years.
Children who belong to very poor families face hunger, un protection being more specific they are deprived of love, proper care and attention, family support and even food and clothing. The families of these poor children are involved in such serious domestic issues that they don't bother to care about them, they are left unattended and uneducated. The miserable conditions of their families cause their parents and family members to get frustrated and mistreat or abuse these innocent children and even force them to earn. This neglect ion from their loved ones cause them to leave their homes and roam on streets and runaway.
There is great disparity between the rich and poor in our society among the rich and the poor. The prevailed issue of runaway children gives rise to our social and moral obligations. The rich people who are excessively bestowed, gives a distasteful look at these unsupported children and by just donating a few rupees try to satisfy their conscience. Actually, through this attitude no actual social or moral obligation is fulfilled.
The desire to have a healthy and progressive society free of all social evils, Ch. Pervaiz Elahi our former Province Minister created “Child Protection and Welfare Bureau” in 2004-2005 which aimed for the rehabilitation and welfare of these neglected and destitute kids. Although it is the responsibility of the whole society but only a few realize. This welfare bureau is under research in this project and will be discussed in greater detail. Even if at this stage this issue was not taken under consideration this would have lead to internal devastation of the society because leaving these poor and destitute children unattended and neglected to face miserable and harsh experiences without any support would be a very selfish and un-Islamic attitude. The worst impact of the instrumental use of children by adults in profit-making criminal activities is violation of social norms and deprivation of children from education which disrupts their proper upbringing and development and prejudices their future. The runaway and street children become a target by gangs for exploitation, the most common crimes include drug-trafficking, drug abuse, pornography, prostitution, begging, burglary and even homicide for reward.
(Pasha& Khan, 2009, as cited in A Centre Of Runaway Children,2009) tells about the details of the centre of runaway children. A research conducted on runaway children showed that “Pirwadhai bus-stand” was discovered to be the centre for runaway children from various cities of Pakistan. A description of this centre tells that majority of runaway children are found on its roof while sleeping at nights and are completely unprotected from vagaries of weather. This centre is most common for those runaways who do not have money and thus cannot manage to live anywhere else. This bus-stand is surrounded by several hotels known as (serias) where a typical bed is provided to sleep for Rs.30 per night. Details of this sleeping bed reveal that a “charpoy” with a pillow and a bed sheet is provided which facilitates comfortable sleep. When these rescued children take shelter here they become exposed to several social-evils as these low-standard living places carry a bad-reputation and supposed to be a breeding ground for different kinds of social-evils. These localities being cheap, anti-social elements hover around here in ample amount and such helpless, unprotected children easily become a part of such anti-social elements. Mostly are found to be illiterate so are sense-less to differences in good and bad. As they belong to very poor homes they try to satisfy their lust for money by getting involved in any social evil where money is granted.
A couple of people in transport sector reported that most of these children land in public transports and at times the drivers of the vans either employ them as conductors and are paid meager wages or they are allowed sleeping inside the vehicles at night for their own and for the vehicles' security.
Majority of children are known to be abused sexually, hunted by criminal groups or become part of the gangs of professional beggars. A considerable number of the children at Pirwadhai bus stand were found to be intoxicated; others were discovered to be addicts of sniffing. On a survey by CP & WB, they were referred by (CPO) Rao Muhammad Iqbal to their bureau.
According to Sahibzada, dealing with such runaway children is a quite technical and hard job as they become cunning after remaining in interaction with strange people and living with the most notorious section of the society. They never trust anybody.
A story of a runaway orphan named Tahir of age 15 narrates that he has been addicted to sniffing an adhesive at Pirwadhai bus-stand used to spend his all day time at the bus-stand but at night went to his relatives house to sleep. At the time when he was recovered by the CP & WB team he was unconscious due to addiction. After rescuing he was initially taken to his relative's place but they refused to own him and consequently he was taken to the bureau. He was found to be psychologically disturbed but no training program was enforced upon him against his will. Presently he is a part of CP & WB.
In a recent interview, (Rao Khalil Ahmad personal communication, April 4th , 2011) told that CP & WB traced about 1-2 gangs while rescuing runaway children from districts of Lahore which sucked these children into beggary or drug-addiction. According to them mostly the children get involved into samad bond drug addiction because it is cheap. They take samad bond into handkerchiefs and smell it, these addicted children when rescued are brought to the center are detoxificated, medically treated and counseled through professionals hired by CP & WB. A major reason known for being involved in drug addiction is to get mental relaxation and reduce sense of complex. It was also stated that, although it is quite difficult to understand the psyche of these runaways but once they are counseled they prove to be very helpful. An example was quoted, that there was a district tour held by CP & WB with 25-30 children along with a police constable, driver, assistant and an officer. One child among them challenged the team that he would run away. During the journey the team people tried changing his mind set through a very loving caring attitude gave him a feeling of security and support and then deviated his thought by asking help from him to assist the team in looking after rest of the children. This proved quite effective and he efficiently fulfilled the duty assigned to him.
(Lukman, Journal of social science,2009) stated that boys being more extrovert and social are usually found on streets whereas girls when run away usually get involved into prostitution or beggary. Estimated results state that out of all the children who runaway from their homes at least half of them get involved in prostitution for their survival. Several studies showed that about 77-90% of young prostitutes are runaways. A few studies stated that around 35-73% of runaway children experience sexual harassment either by the family members or strangers before running away but there are other significant reasons as well which cause the children to runaway and are proved to be more important than sexual abuse. Therefore, this argument is being supported that not sexual abuse lead children into prostitution, running away is a more salient feature to get involved in prostitution activities. A comparative research conducted by Mc Clanahau et al. (18) reported that child victims of sexual abuse who runaway are more likely to get involved in prostitution as compared to non-runaways.
(“Sahil seminar for street children”,2010) discussed the main aspects of the seminar held. It aimed to discuss the needs and steps needed to be taken among the experts to resolve the problems of street children. A representative of Pahchan organization, Dr Naeem Zafar stated most of these children are susceptible to diseases as they are exposed to such disease prone areas and even subject to drug abuses, therefore proper medical and psychological treatment should be provided. Moreover, measures to reduce the number of runaway children were also excessively discussed. The chief guest of seminar, Zakia Shahnawaz said that educating mothers was integral for the protection of children. Another important point mentioned by the journalist Mujeeb-ur-Rehman was that a control over population would also be effective in reducing number of street children. Furthermore, women education is considered to be an extremely important step and would prove helpful for any street child problem.
In (“Free treatment”,2011) Punjab C.M provided free diagnostic and treatment facilities at Ganga Ram Hospital, subsequently of the 60,603 patients admitted in which 34,920 were children which included street children as well and were treated free of cost in pediatric emergency. The hospital staff was also instructed to have a healthy, friendly attitude towards patients and promote awareness among people for prevention of various diseases. (Shafi Baloch, as cited in Int'l Children day today,2009) focused on the proposal put forward by (NCRC). This committee was found to be very disappointed with poor coordination among different bodies of the government at district, provincial and federal stages who were actually responsible for monitoring and implementing the convention. The committee proposed the government to enhance 5% of GDP by 2010 for education and around 16% GDP for the health sector. Pakistan's literacy rate is drastically low and this at higher school levels prove to be a national tragedy. Corporal punishments at home cause these children to end up in streets and thus are exposed to all kinds of abuses. The committee also considered the concern for not registering 70% of the children at birth time who belonged to different religions, minority groups, refugees or live in rural areas. It was also stated that child labor is prevailing to a great extent due to growing poverty. The deep concern of the committee was that minimum age of criminal responsibility is still very low and thus number of children in prison is also very high and thus the children are mistreated. The committee concluded by diverting attention of the public that youth group and civil society organization should help in increasing the awareness and implementation of the convention.
The problem of runaway children is increasing at a high pace, with this; the issue of increased criminal activity is also prevailing making our city an unsafe place to live in. Looking at the situation many people do not pay attention to the issue of child runaways but are willing to provide any kind of help when asked about the topic in particular. Lack of awareness about the huge horizon of criminal actions taking place in Lahore due to the problem of runaway children is the reason why people do not give much thought to the subject. To be precise the main felonies that fall under the heading of criminal activities are theft, pick-pocketing, slavery, forced prostitution, drug abuse, drug trafficking and organ trafficking. Although there are a lot of other transgressions taking place as well but, the ones mentioned happen to exist the most and are the main cause of the increasing downfall of our society.
Most child runaways are found around Minar-e-Pakistan, the monument that symbolizes the creation of Pakistan and which has ironically become a hub for runaway children, petty criminals and drug addicts and Data Darbar shrine complex where food is available seven days of the week making it a point for rest and security. Harsh realities of life strike these children as soon as they leave the circle of their homes, forced to lie, betray, steal and even sell themselves at the will of their stomachs. Drug-pushing mafias are on a constant search for child runaways forcing them to deliver banned drugs from one place to another and even consuming them in return for food, shelter and security. Criminal groups enjoy massive advantage over the poor conditions of these children; runaways are forced to beg at different areas of Lahore city for long hours. Some children are disguised as severely injured or ill others are forcefully disabled of their arms, legs or eyes to beg for sympathy.
Runaway children are also rented for several hours of a day: some people receive their income by loaning them at a fixed rate, and then these children are supposed to do whatever they are asked for be it carrying heavy loads or beg or indulge into criminal activities of any kind. The biggest crime that one could come across while having a look at the problem is drug abuse; being forced to consume drugs or consuming drugs by choice, drug abuse is a very serious social problem and according to a research conducted by Roshni Helpline- a non-profit organization based in Karachi up to 95% child runaways are addicted to Samad-bond an industrial adhesive used for gluing different materials, petrol or other cheap drugs like heroine.
Samad-bond is simple sniffed by spreading it on a piece of cloth, rolling it and then start inhaling, which makes them snooze. The side effects are more dangerous than those of other drugs. “After inhaling the glue, sometimes we do not feel pain even when one cuts himself or herself.” Says Sheraz. “I got the habit from runaway children who live at Data Darbar in Lahore,” said 13-year-old boy, Maqbool. Once he developed breathing problems, he returned home where he quitted glue sniffing, he added. “Glue, benzene, gasoline, varnish thinner, lighter fluid and aerosol belong to a group of volatile hydrocarbons and petroleum derivatives that were still being used for addiction, particularly by people working at garages and petrol stations. Medical reports say that Glue sniffing could cause dangerous side effects on behavior, such as euphoria, slurred speech, hallucination and psychosis. The habit could also damage brain, lever, kidneys, heart and myocardium. If it is daily used over a period of six months it could cause permanent brain damage.”
Railway police has been taking proper initiatives since the year 2004, according to the newspaper Daily Times as stated on Thursday, December 09, 2004. Pimps and pedophiles have been targeting child runaways dismounting trains at the Lahore railway station, said the inspector general (IG) of railway police. “For the first time in Pakistan's history, the Pakistan Railway Police (PRP) has established help centers for runaways and the destitute at railway stations and is protecting more than 1,400 women and children from such predators,” he said. “Our aim is to get to the runaways before these vicious predators grind them into a world of beggary, thievery, prostitution and drug pedaling.” Munir Ahmad Chishti, the Lahore senior superintendent of police (SSP) tell that Pakistan railway police (PRP) officials including women are being trained to recognize child runaways so that they could be handled delicately.
Half of the child runaways are involved in petty crimes like pick-pocketing the situation and circumstances around these children force them to find a short, rather illegal way to make money. Most of the child runaways experience problems that they have never come across while they were at their homes, they run out of clothes to wear and shoes to walk. The young minds do not think about the natural occurrences like extremely hot or cold weather and pollution. There have been a lot of cases where children have been kidnapped, raped and murdered by people who know that they are helpless. The main reason for this is that these cruel minds know that nobody would come looking for a child on the streets. According to Mr. Nasim the coordinator at the Child Protection Bureau based in Lahore, up to 90 percent of runaway children do not have worried families or relatives searching for them. This feeling of neglect and disregard leaves a very profound impact on the minds of child runaways.
A very significant reason of why most runaway children turn towards crime is the psychological background of these children, broken families; constant fights, hostility and abuse force these children to trickle their frustration on the society around them. Small criminal minds are often studied and history of violence leads these children to taking revenge on common man. According to the authorities at the Child Protection Bureau all the children especially child runaways are analyzed mentally and psychologically to get to the roots of disturbing behavior.
Human trafficking has also been a very staid problem in our country since a very long time. Thousands of children are illegally smuggled
Cite This Dissertation
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below: