“Children of the Dust” – Street Children in Ha Tinh

The problem of street children is one of the most pressing social problems
in Vietnam. The sight of children selling chewing gum in restaurants or shining
shoes in street corners has become familiar. People sometimes call them roaming
kids or “dust of life.” Although the problem is well known, the dynamic
mechanism that prompts these children to drop out of school and go selling in
the street is yet to be analyzed deeply or comprehensively. Such causes as dire
poverty and parents’ divorce may be common to the street children problem in
all developing countries, but other causes may be that Ha Tinh experiencing an enormous social and economic transformation.

Children end up on the street for a variety of reasons. For some, the
street is an escape from broken families or domestic violence. For others, street
life is a means of supplementing family income, passing time, and even having
fun. In addition, the breakdown of traditional family values, educational zeal,
and community structure leaves a large number of children without necessary
care and support for their sound growth and development.

Children who work or live on the streets do not have full knowledge
of their rights and are often unaware of risks in unguided urban life. Many of
them are under the stress of day-to-day living. Some use alcohol
to relieve the stress and to forget painful experiences. Others are trained to
become professional beggars. Disabled children may be sold to strangers who force them tobeg on streets. Girls seem to be in particular danger as the target of sexual
assault and exploitation.

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