Confronting the challenge of children rough sleepers

An upcoming conference aims to address a phenomenon affecting the most vulnerable minors, writes Cécile Kyenge.

By Cécile Kyenge

26 Nov 2014

Human dignity is seldom compromised or undermined in full view of all. Those among us who are most destitute or marginalised can easily remain invisible. Indeed, there is always the risk that they may be ignored entirely. In 2014, as in previous years, international human rights day on 10 December reminds us once again to see the world with open eyes. It is a reminder to our communities that when looking at the challenges confronting society we are unlikely to make the kind of courageous observations which can mobilise us to action until we have learnt how to see. The presence of children rough sleepers (CRS), in our cities is one such example and it is this ‘hidden’ phenomenon of vulnerable minors that we will be focussing on at a conference at the European parliament on the afternoon of 10 December.

Edited by lead researcher and criminal justice professor Kate Moss of the university of Wolverhampton, a recent report detailing the most updated research on CRS underscores the extent to which the rising numbers across Europe begin to demand our attention. The result of a two-year joint study financed by the EU's Daphne programme, it includes the findings of nine partner organisations of the CRS project consortium from Portugal, Slovenia, Hungary, Spain, UK, Romania, Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands.

"In the face of homelessness and sexual exploitation and before the spectre of alcoholism and substance abuse, concrete solutions respecting child protection are called for at policy level"

When reading through some of the interviews conducted with sample members of the target population in the countries under examination, it occurred to me that the core values powering the declaration of the rights of the child remain as pertinent now as they were when first drafted in 1923. In the face of homelessness and sexual exploitation and before the spectre of alcoholism and substance abuse, concrete solutions respecting child protection are called for at policy level. The very real, day-to-day dangers confronting the lives of CRS summon us to expend all our resources and knowhow, expertise and due attention to best practice, all with a view to arriving at workable prevention strategies, configured to privilege socialisation away from influences which might propel these minors towards becoming victims and perpetrators of crime and thus providing them with alternatives in the form of tangible tools to facilitate their path to integration and wellbeing.

The policy roundtable at Brussels Aloft hotel on the morning of 11 December will bring together stakeholders from various related fields with a view to forging strategies tailored to decisively address the problem of children rough sleepers head on.

For more information on the upcoming children rough sleepers conference and roundtable in Brussels on 10-11 December 2014, click here.

Read the most recent articles written by Cécile Kyenge - Refugee crisis: EU must be fully united

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