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Street children, human rights and public health : a critique and future directions.

Panter-Brick, C. (2002) 'Street children, human rights and public health : a critique and future directions.', Annual review of anthropology., 31 . pp. 147-171.


This review presents a critique of the academic and welfare literature on street children in developing countries, with supporting evidence from studies of homelessness in industrialized nations. The turn of the twenty-first century has seen a sea change of perspective in studies concerning street youth. This review examines five stark criticisms of the category “street child” and of research that focuses on the identifying characteristics of a street lifestyle rather than on the children themselves and the depth or diversity of their actual experiences. Second, it relates the change of approach to a powerful human rights discourse—the legal and conceptual framework provided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child—which emphasizes children's rights as citizens and recognizes their capabilities to enact change in their own lives. Finally, this article examines literature focusing specifically on the risks to health associated with street or homeless lifestyles. Risk assessment that assigns street children to a category “at risk” should not overshadow helpful analytical approaches focusing on children's resiliency and long-term career life prospects. This review thus highlights some of the challenging academic and practical questions that have been raised regarding current understandings of street children.

Item Type:Article
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Record Created:29 May 2007
Last Modified:08 Apr 2009 16:32

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