: Health,Psychology,Sağlık Blog-: STREET CHILDREN IN TURKEY


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The Identification Of Street Children

Millions of children are forced to spend their own lives on the streets of cities. Day by day, their numbers increase constantly. Children who are living without their families are called street children. Street children who are at small ages, are exposed to big mistakes, when they take a shelter in society for saving their lives, nobody opens his or her arms to help them. Street children have only one way to save their lives; that is foundation for street children. Most street children hope that their lives will change, but street life causes children to be homeless. Street children do not want to be street children, but life standards are obligate them to live in the streets.

Reasons Of Being Street Children

There are some basic reasons of being street children, but only two of them are very important. First one is economic reasons, the other one is regarding the family reasons. When we explain economic reasons, we can see that economic reasons and family reasons depend on each other. Generally, in Turkey, families who are from the East, immigrate to İstanbul and they do not keep in step with İstanbul because in İstanbul, life conditions are very heavy and everything is more expensive than villages. So, poverty rates are high. Families who are from the East part of the Turkey, have a lot of children. A big amount of children have no birth certificate. Bad relationship between family members and violence are some factors that include family reasons also children who are left their sweety beds, are forced to make and earn money by their parents, they earn money to sell selpak, sweet or something like that and then when they earn money, they should give money to their fathers. If they earn less money, money beating is waiting for them at home, so children see escape from home and living in the streets are the only solution to save themselves for beating. When they escape from their homes, street and especially life do not behave them good, because out of their homes, there are a lot of people; some of them are optimistic and helpful but some of them are not and lots of dangerous things like thinner and adhesive are waiting for them. When they escape from their homes, their new homes are the streets, their family members are the strangers and other children who are living in the street like them. Their life styles are change, when they escape. At first, they lose their childhood at their homes and they become an adult in the streets, maybe they imagine that physically they become an adult, but their heart always stay like children for a long period of time. Generally, life does not feel sorry to children, it behaves bad and much more children are not lucky, because they do not find anybody who opens his or her arms, to help them and to give children his or her hot love. they live with their responsibilities, they abandon themselves and they are living with crowd, violence, defencelessness, hunger, sexual abuse and sometimes they wake up with sun, rain and snow but finding a daily food and a shelter are not sufficient for them.

Life In The Streets

According to street children, most important thing to escape from home is freedom and prove themselves, because most of them are get bored with beating and they see escape from home is the only solution. They know that if they escape from their homes, they will not have a home to live, some foods to eat and a hot mother lap to sleep, on the other hand, they will keep their freedoms. Maybe they can find a bed to sleep, they can find or steal some foods to eat, but they can not find a hot mother lap, but being free comes more attractive than living with their families. “ According to indefinite numbers, there are 4000 street children in İstanbul and 10000 street children in Turkey. Most of them are males because girls are generally kidnapped to work as a prostitutes”( Ersöz 8). So females are unlucky than boys. Children who are street children start to gain addiction from their work. “Because a lot of street children start to learn what is thinner and adhesive, to work as a bicycle repairer, a car painter or to work in a leather factory, a printer house and a dry cleaning shop”. ( Flanaghan 257-261). And they become an addicted person soon. When they worked as a repairer or as a carpenter, they look like very different, because when they use thinner and adhesive, their physical appearance start to change. They do not take pains to other children about their clothes, because street children wear what they find. Nobody gives or buys them special and expensive clothes. However other children wear clean and ironed clothes, street children wear dirty clothes. Children who are street children have no homes. On account of the fact that, they do not have water to have a shower, so their hairs are dirty and stuck, their nails are filthy. Some of them look rather clean than the others because in daily time, when they finish their works, they remember their childhood for several minutes and they swim in the park pools. Thus, they generally stroll round and sleep wherever it is suitable. For example; under the bridges, parks and empty building sides. During the daily time, you see them everywhere because they go around the cars to sell something. But during the night, they stop selling and they start to buy thinner and adhesive to relax. They always use thinner and adhesive together. For example; they go around with 30 or 40 groups, because when they go somewhere to use thinner and adhesive, they protect each other, because if they use thinner and adhesive alone, some people come and behave them bad or some people disturb them. “They always go around in Beyoğlu, Kadıköy, bus stations, etc”. ( Özturan 10). People who live in that areas do not find them strange because they accustom each other. Street children are divided into two groups. Thinner users and adhesive users. They have an important thing that people separate them easily. “An adhesive user can not join to a thinner user group or a thinner user can not join to an adhesive user group” (Ersöz 5). Thinner users think that an adhesive is more dangerous than thinner and they do not like adhesive and people who use it. These groups have a chief. They see that chief is an important person and the director of their group. They always allowed to listen to and love to that chief. Chief is also responsible for this group, he has to buy and find adhesive or thinner and also have a place to sleep that night. All groups have some rules and they have to obey these rules otherwise they attacked from groups. For example; someone does not peach on someone because every people in the group should be brother and they must be live with peace. Another rule is to have sex is forbidden. If someone does not obey these rules, he is punished heavily. People in the group practice violence. For example; chief of the group beats person who does not obey these rules or chief uses knife to afraid of him. Sometimes this small game starts to be huge and at he end of the game chief kills him. Therefore lots of street children have physiological problems and they have some wounds in their bodies especially on their faces. “An adhesive user child can live only 18 or 19 years. An adhesive damages their brains, hearts, lungs, kidneys and bloods. Children who use an adhesive think that using an adhesive called flying”(Ersöz 5). According to street children, using an adhesive is the cheapest way to fly, but children who use thinner and adhesive see themselves like famous people because thinner is expensive than an adhesive. Also when adhesive users want to use an adhesive, they start to find a quiet area because they do not like disturbing by someone. Sometimes they may damage themselves or they may damage someone who is not from their groups. Thinner also damages but a thinner user child can live until 18 or 19. Thinner users are more conscious so they have no more problems than adhesive users. Both of them have same reason to use them; not to think about the real life. Because all of the users are small ages and they are too small to hold the life. Also it is very hard and difficult to shoulder the life. In Turkey, there are lots of children who are start to shoulder the life at an early age. It is very irresistible to do this at an early age, but children who are street children, to do this. But how... They resist the life conditions to use thinner and adhesive. So they comfort themselves like these. Thinner and adhesive do not affect them well. If they want to use thinner and adhesive, firstly they go to a market or an iron-monger. It is not very hard to find thinner and adhesive, because they are not expensive and they are sold in everywhere. When they buy them, they go to a place where the chief finds. And their flying party starts. Thinner and adhesive are things which affect children and when they smell them for 5 minutes, their relationships between world cut down for 1 hour and they start to see dreams for 1 hour and they are relax, thinner and adhesive give them a big comfort, so they feel comfortable without thinking, but they are not aware of being an addictive person day by day. When they use them, their lungs are press, their brains beco- me numb, their ears start to ringing and their eyes become destroy. Although they know all the things which are harmful for their healthy, they use them and they do not effort to save themselves. The most important effect that makes children happy is dreaming. Because when they use thinner and adhesive, they start to see dreams. Lots of children see what they want and their dreams go on for 1 hour. If they smell thinner and adhesive for 5 minutes. But if they want to see much more dreams, they can increase the limit of adhesive or thinner. Street children say that they see dreams but doctors say that street children who see dreams are not see dreams, they only see hallucination. They see their dreams to lean each other and they look at the walls. “According to street children in their dreams, sometimes they see themselves like a king or a cowboy. Some of them eat some delicious foods in an expensive restaurant or they go to the space” ( Ersöz, 4). Of course some of the dreams are not make them happy. For example; they see women who seem like a tree and eat them or some of them start to shout like this: “where is my horse?” And sometimes they have some accidents, because of their careless behaviours they burn buildings with their friend’s cigarettes. “ In Galatasaray, there was a little child whose name is Kurtuluş, burnt himself with a cigarette, he used thinner and then he burnt his cigarette, suddenly the place where he had a flying party started to catch a fire, so he did not save himself and died with burning.” ( Ersöz 4). Kurtuluş is not the one who burnt himself, there are lots of street children like this. Generally people say that street children burn our buildings for intentional, but it is not true of course. They only want to see dreams more than one time, so they behave careless and then they perforce to burn buildings. Because when they use thinner and adhesive, they do not think anything, when they stop using it, they feel themselves silly because thinner and adhesive affect them too much. When they use thinner and adhesive their shyness goes and they do not afraid the world that they live. In this way, they beg and earn money easily, because of these addictions they get far from the society. They do not believe anyone expect the members of the group. If people want to speak with them, they never speak with them or they give short answers. They do not give any clue about their names, families or the place where they live. Because they afraid that, they will be taken out of the group and given to their families. If so, they escape again and come back to streets. Although they have bad conditions in the streets, they do not want to return to their families. When we buy something for example; a medicine, a lotion; there are some instructions on it. Although everything has instruction, only two things have no instruction. These are thinner and adhesive. People only write it is harmful and not drink or eat. But they do not think that some children do not listen to them and continue to use them. Thinner and bally, (bally is a kind of adhesive), are used by street children. Street children have a lot of using styles. For example; when they buy thinner, they put it in a plastic or paper bag and start to smell it. Sometimes they pour thinner and adhesive in a cloth and they smell directly. This way is the most useful way , because when they smell it, they see lots of dreams. Bally is more harmful than thinner, because firstly, they find a small stick and they rub some bally to top of the stick and then smell it, so we understand that they easily burn themselves like this. It is very tragic that nobody do not find any solution to prevent these accidents and children’s lives.

Approach Of People To Street Children

Approach of society to street children is generally negative. Most people hate them and behave them bad. All of them think that street children are harmful for us and they imagine that they are not normal children, they are like small monsters. Generally, street children are fighting with each other in the streets, nobody stops a quarrel between two children. They hate as much as that they can kick a street child out of bus, because of his bad smell and dirty clothes. For example; when a street child comes and sits near to somebody, this person change his or her seat because they do not love a street child. Nobody thinks that this street child is poor, he wants some interests or they do not think to give them some food or clothes. In the society, people always say about them “oh, my dear...” but it is not enough for them or saying like this because their lives are not saved like this by society. So we understand that, that is why their distance between us gets far and far.
The Turkish Foundation For Street Children

In Turkey, there are a lot of street children in the street of cities and nobody helps them, either governmental institution or municipality that designs any specific policy or programs- for street children. Only social services and Orphan Asylums accept those children. These foundations help children but they are not enough because there are less foundations in Turkey. These facts formed of the existence of Turkish Foundation For Street Children in January 1996. They have some aims to do. For example; bringing solutions to problems of children that are pushed to live in the streets, meeting their basic needs for food, shelter, education, health and employment. Turkish Foundation For Street Children reminds all children living in the streets that they are “children” ; and they shown them that there are different worlds than the one they have been experiencing. They have been starting to work hard and they have established some places.
Firstly, they do working on the streets. A group of social workers and some volunteers are working in İstanbul, in the streets and they are working until the night. They tell street children something which is useful. They build up relations with children. They introduce The First Step House and they tell children who never want to return to their homes to stay in this home. Sometimes they are faced with some problems like, most of the street children do not even have birth certificates; so helping become more difficult. During street work , children’s’ needs for example; clothing, food, blankets, medication; cleaning ...etc are identified. Children who are addicted to thinner are supplied with professional help, if they accept.
Secondly, another work is The Street Cafe. This is another activity of foundation. The Street Cafe is planned to act like a bridge between society and street children. The Street Cafe is in Beyoğlu, if you want to talk and want to be a friend with street children, you can go there and speak with them because The Street Cafe is opened every time for everybody. This is a very good place that all the children live there and have good times, because when they live in the streets, they have no chance to talk with different people, eat some delicious foods, have a shower and get clean clothes, but in The Street Cafe, they do all the things what they want and they do not feel themselves alone because they have a chance to play chess or another games. In this cafe, there are some teachers that they teach them how to play a chess or any kind of games.
Thirdly, the foundation have a house which is called The First Step House . In this house, there are 15 children whose ages are between 8-16. A group of social workers, psychologists, child development and education specialists., teachers, psychiatric nurses and trained volunteers consulted by psychiatrists, work in the First Step House. Social workers prepare individual reports about the reasons of children for being on the streets, their family structures, problems and background histories. There is a wood work shop established by the volunteers. While learning to do wood work, also children learn how to work together, share things and carry responsibilities. Above all, it is really promising to see that children who are living at this house and they start to dreaming, having expectations from the life.
Finally, The Turkish Foundation For Street Children publish a newspaper whose name is First Step. The newspaper not only provides financial support for foundation, but also exposes the drawings, poems and essays of children.


In conclusion, street children are unlucky children. They did never want to be like this, but this is not their faults. Their only fault is having a poor, irrelevant and uneasy family, but it is needless to say that they have no chance to choose their families. To feel pity for them is not enough for them or never helps them and we can not save them like this. We have to give some foods, clothes that we do not wear and some money to them. We help The Foundation For Street Children as a volunteer. We never forget that, they wish to live in a happy family and they want to have a father who is not beat them. They always have two dreams: the first one is to live with their families again and the second one is to live in a world which has no adhesive and thinner. They say maybe another day...

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