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Street Children and Orphans in Eastern Europe Tatiana Balachova, Ph.D. Barbara Bonner, Ph.D. University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Sheldon Levy,

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Presentation on theme: "Street Children and Orphans in Eastern Europe Tatiana Balachova, Ph.D. Barbara Bonner, Ph.D. University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Sheldon Levy,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Street Children and Orphans in Eastern Europe Tatiana Balachova, Ph.D. Barbara Bonner, Ph.D. University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Sheldon Levy, Ph.D. Brown University

2 Categories of Children Who are Not in Parental Care n n Street/homeless children (UNICEF, 1986) – –Children on the street – –Children of the street n n Children in substitute care – –Institutionalized children

3 Definition of Street Children n n "Any girl or boy for whom the street …has become his or her habitual abode and/or source of livelihood, and who is inadequately protected, supervised, or directed by responsible adults." (Ortiz et al., 1992)

4 Background prior Perestroika n n No Street Children in Developed Soviet Societies n n State is taking excellent care of orphans n n No recognition of physical/sexual child abuse n n Severe child neglect recognized n n Data on negative issues were closed n n State control on parents response to a childs needs n n Medical care provided for all children by the state n n National newborn home visitation programs

5 Care for Orphans and Street Children in Soviet Union n n Police Collection and Distribution Departments (Priemnic-Raspredelitel) in big cities n n Babys home (Dom Rebyenka) state orphanages for infants age 0-4 n n Childrens home (Dyetskii Dom or Internat) state orphanages/institutions for children age n n Boarding institution (Spets-Internat (Psychoneurological Internat) for physically or mentally disabled children age 5-17

6 Impact of the Transition n n Greater democracy and freedom n n Economic impact – –fall in wages and family income /37% of Russians income below living wage (Russian minister of Labor and Social Development report to the Duma/Parlament, Oct. 2000) – –rising unemployment – –extremes of income inequality >>>>Poverty Over 160 million people or 40% of the region population live in poverty (European Childrens Trust, Oct. 11, 2000) n n 50 million of them children – –40 million of these children live in the former Soviet Union

7 Impact of the Transition n n Loss of social safety network n n Health crisis – –increase in mortality rates / nearly 25% of the population will not reach the age of 60 (European Childrens Trust, October 11, 2000) – –poor health – –disruption of health care system n n Education (schools and day care) – –lack of resources – –falling enrollment and attendance

8 Number of Street Children n n Romania – –Estimated up to 20,000 street children in Romania (beginning of 1999, 5.2 million children age 0-17 in Romania) n n Russia – –Estimated from 1 to 4 million street children – –Estimated 50,000 children run away from their homes every year (beginning of 1999, 34.9 million children age 0-17 in Russia)

9 Dynamics of the Numbers n n Russia - number of registered orphans between 1993 and 1997 increased by 30% - number residing in institutions increased by 35% - children in foster families (mostly relatives) 46% - number adopted was consistent, increased by 2% n n Romania – –Abandonment of children in state institutions has increased between 1990 and 1995 by 26 percent (Child Hope)

10 Street Children, Children in Shelters and Institutions: Who are They? n n % of children in orphanages are social orphans who have a living parent (UNICEF, 1997) n n 98 % children in shelters have a living parent (Balachova, 1994)

11 Factors that Drive Children Away from Home: Alcohol Abuse n n Most children in shelters reported parents alcohol abuse (Balachova, 1994) n n Most children in state-run institutions had a parent who was either alcoholic or had legal problems with authorities (Gribanova, 1988) n n 82 % of alcoholic fathers were found to be aggressive (verbally threatening and physically violent) toward their children (Christov & Toteva, 1989)

12 Factors that Drive Children Away from Home: Physical Abuse and Neglect n n 92% of street children reported that they had run away from their families or institutions because of physical or other abuse (Jhumki Basu, 1998) n n Preschool enrolment rates dropped between 1989 and 1999 by 10% in Russia, 21% in Ukraine, 15% in Albania, and 29% in Moldova (UNISEF report, 8, 2001) n n 5% of primary school students in Russia are out of school (UNISEF Report, 1999)

13 Children in State-Run Institutions n n Children in institutions are at significant risk of premature death (Ministry of Labor and Social Development) – –With higher death rates in Internats for mentally disabled children (UNICEF) n n Approximately 30% of children in special institutions for disabled die before they reach age 18 (Ukraine, 1996, Human Rights Watch)

14 Children in State-Run Institutions n n Mortality rate is due in part to crowding, poor hygiene, and low standards of care (UNICEF) n n Many children are at increased risk from their underlying conditions n n The incidence of malnutrition disorders, rickets, and anemia increased in Infants Homes by 75% respectively between (UNICEF)

15 Children in State-Run Institutions n n From 5 to 7 times more likely to have behavioral, cognitive, and communication problems than children in general population n n 65% have mental retardation or learning problems (Shipitsina, Ivanov, & Vinogradova, 1997)

16 Children in State-Run Institutions: Outcomes On graduation from a state institution for mentally disabled at age 18 n n 18.3% became vagrants n n 10% involved in crime n n 10% committed suicide (Alternative Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, October 1998)

17 Elements of New System n n Shelters and social-rehabilitation centers have sprung up to provide a more humanistic system n n Alternatives to institutional care are in their infancy – –foster care – –family group homes – –family reunification programs

18 Recommendations Primary Prevention n n Public education to increase awareness of child abuse and neglect, and to alter public attitudes toward orphans n n Parenting programs for parents n n Training for primary health care & child care professionals n n Reestablish after school & community programs

19 Recommendations Secondary Prevention n n Services for children with special needs & their families n n Services for single parents, multiple children families, and other families at risk n n Early intervention for families of alcoholics and drug addicts

20 Recommendations Tertiary Prevention n n Services for street children with interventions on different levels – –street work – –shelters – –foster families n n Establishing of child abuse reporting and investigation system n n System of short- and long- term substitute care with respect of childrens needs/rights & deinstitutionalization n n Training on CAN for staff at institutions/shelters

21 Policy Recommendations Development of child protection laws & procedures – –Definition of child abuse & neglect – –Reporting laws – –Punishment for offenders – –Protection for victims – –Investigation procedures – –Mandatory treatment services


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