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WAYS OF COPING: Children growing up on the streets of Nairobi

Publication Summary

As many as 60,000 children live and work on Nairobi’s streets during the day, exposed to violence, exploitation and abuse, nationally with the figure estimated as high as 300,000, all in need of protection.

Being on the streets opens up children to a whole raft of ways in which they are more vulnerable and need protecting. However, sometimes children move to the streets as a means of self-protection, escaping violence and abuse at home. These children are looking to survive and they daily take self-protection decisions. These decisions are often abusive but they are a coping mechanism too. This report looks at how they cope with hunger, sickness, sexual violence and physical violence.

Recognising that children live and work on the streets in Kenya in search of protection is a critical step in affording them agency and protection. Toybox takes a systems approach to child protection and needs to be applied at the child, family, community and society level. Toybox do not believe that living or working on the street is the best way for a child to experience life. But we believe that more needs to be done to protect street-connected children in Kenya as well as empower them to have greater agency within their own lives. The report recommend that organisations and donors tackle child exploitation and protection taking a systemic approach, building capacity across the child protection system and prioritising the inclusion of the most vulnerable children, such as street connected. Street living for children and youth must be legalised in order to ensure their rights and prevent justification by policy and security to arrest or abuse them. And children in conflict with the law must have fair and free legal representation.

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