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Child Abuse Negl. 2008 Apr;32(4):439-48. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.07.009.

Children of the sug: a study of the daily lives of street children in Khartoum, Sudan, with intervention recommendations.

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International Research Consultant to the Save the Children Alliance, Khartoum, Sudan.



The study examines street children's daily lives in Khartoum, Sudan to recommend ways to improve their conditions and to successfully assist them off the streets.


In 2000-2001, eight researchers conducted participant observation for 7 weeks; 20 groups of children engaged in role-plays and drawing activities; over 500 children participated in qualitative group and individual interviews; and 872 current and former street children were surveyed.


Approximately half of children were 14 years old or younger. Daily life focused on eating, sucking glue-soaked rags, obtaining money, and sometimes movies or games; many children valued their freedom and relatively abundant food on the streets. Boys engaged in odd jobs, and sometimes theft, begging, or sex work. Girls had fewer work opportunities and primarily obtained money through begging and sex work. Almost half of children saw their families weekly. Children belonged to same-sex groups of common geographic origin, which shared food, shelter, and care when sick; boys' group leaders could be both protectors and aggressors. Most girls had a boyfriend who financially assisted and protected her. Girls frequently were raped by street boys, police, or other men. Children feared routine capture, beating and incarceration by authorities. Former street children were housed in large camps where abuse was common, or costly small residencies.


Street-based services to improve children's health and safety are urgently needed. Re-integration programs may help large numbers of children voluntarily and permanently leave the streets. Advocacy campaigns and collaborative efforts with the police, judiciary and legislature should be intensified.


The paper highlights important challenges facing street children in Khartoum, and provides specific recommendations for how they might be better assisted while on the streets and successfully helped off of the streets through community re-integration, rather than current (1) large-scale beating and incarceration by government authorities, or (2) small-scale and costly residential housing by NGOs. The findings have already been used in a sustained advocacy campaign that has resulted in a number of positive legislative changes for street children, such as parliamentary endorsement of a new bill that improves street children's legal status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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