In countries plagued with poverty it is common to find children living on the street. In Peru it is mostly boys who live on the streets. Many of these children are forced out of their homes due to hunger, neglect, parent’s unemployment or underemployment, and dysfunctional households experiencing domestic abuse. These children usually find groups of others to engage with and try to make a bit of money to buy food. In the major cities you will find children selling gum, goods and trinkets at intersections of busy streets, shinning shoes, washing cars, collecting trash and scraps to survive.
At times some of these children engage in criminal activities; they steal or work in the drug trade. Many of them get hold of intoxicants to inhale glue, marijuana, cocaine paste which damage their brains. Being exposed to harsh elements they are not motivated to attend school and the majority are illiterate.
The Covid -19 pandemic has placed street children at high risk since they don’t understand the health crisis and how to protect themselves. With many more families suffering due to loss of income, the numbers of street children in South America has increased. These youngsters have no way to stay safe and self-isolate. There are no facilities for them to shelter and stay clean. These kids are increasingly facing hostility from others in the community as they are seen as delinquents. They are being detained when they break curfews and sent to overcrowded jails.
The closure of schools, commerce and lockdowns have had a devastating impact on all Latin American countries. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean has reported that low economic growth, lack of social protection and growing social tensions has caused an extreme rate of poverty, not seen in the last twenty years.
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