Factors that lead to the influx of street children in urban areas. a case of Kakamega town
Matende, Florance Wakhu
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This was a research with a two-fold purpose. One purpose was to determine why some children from urban families take to the streets while others do not. The other purpose was to fill the gap in knowledge on middle sized towns as concerns the street children phenomenon since studies have been carried out in the major towns of Kenya i.e. Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu. The objectives of the research were to: identify the basic characteristics of the children dwelling on the streets of Kakamega town: establish their socio-economic background; investigate their activities; establish their future goals and aspirations; and to determine why other children from similar family backgrounds do not go to the streets. Data was collected using interview guides and an observation checklist from a sample of 44 subjects i.e. street children (20), non-street children (10), parents of street children (4), and parents of non-street children (10). This data was analyzed using steps adapted from Miles and Huberman (1994). Results showed that the age of children ranged from 8 years to 18 years. All street children were male. No female child was identified. The non-street children were both male and female and all of them were in school. On the other hand, 50 of the street children had not gone beyond standard four of primary school education, and none of the street children could read. The street children were ill-clad, greasy, dirty and aggressive. They had skin diseases, suffered muscle wasting, and appeared too short for their age. While on the streets, street children involved themselves in various activities with the aim of looking for money. Majority (70) of the children were from polygamous homes where their needs were not being met. As concerns religion, 75 of the street children belonged to the Muslim sect and lived in the slums of Kakamega town. The reasons for children being on the streets were many and varied. Children took to the streets because of poor relations at home, overcrowded homes, to look for jobs because there is no money for education, influence by parents, homes were materially and morally depriving, while others consider life in town better than that in the rural areas. There are many family breakdowns due to instability in the families; eroded extended family ties, rising costs of living, and social disintegration. These are some causes of children taking to the streets. From the findings of this study, the researcher concluded that the street children phenomenon is a "time bome waiting to exploded". Preventive initiatives should be emphasized because they can intervene before the child and the family are negatively affected.