DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 September) — Children who roam the city streets to beg or make a living have gone down to 63 as of this quarter from 257 in 2011, the highest on record since 2009, an official said.
Speaking at the regular I-Speak forum Thursday, Grace S. Frias, children’s concerns division chief at the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO), attributed the decrease to the city’s interventions.
From 83 in 2008, the number of children on the street increased to 118 in 2009. The number went up to 222 in 2010, and then rose to 257 in 2011, she said.
Frias categorized these children as either street-based or working-based.
She explained that street children are those who have fled their homes and practically live in the streets and survive by begging for food or money or selling flowers, candles, and other commodities.
Working-based children are forced by their parents to make a living in the streets, but these children go home afterward, she added.
As of this quarter, the CSSDO monitored only four street-based and 59 working-based children. Twelve of the latter are out-of-school.
Frias cited that the city’s interventions for these children include spiritual, sports and educational activities. She added that they are attending classes under the alternative learning system of the Department of Education.
She pointed out that the street-based children have stopped attending school as they decided to leave home because they were physically abused by their parents.
Frias said more effort is needed to educate the Badjaos, who have become accustomed to begging.
Historically nomadic, Badjaos have occupied the coastal areas of Matina Aplaya and Quezon Boulevard as informal settlers, she said.
“We need to educate them further and make them aware that they are exposing their children to the hazards in the streets,” she said.
Although the CSSDO is yet to account the exact population of Badjaos here, she said, the office has tapped their tribal leaders and influential people in the tribe to help in educating them.
She added they need to employ a Badjao social worker. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)