Factors influencing influx of street children in urban areas: a case of street children projects in Meru town - Kenya
This research project investigated the factors contributing to the influx of street children in urban areas with a case study of the street children projects in Meru town in Meru County. The purpose of the study was to assess the factors contributing to influx of street children in urban areas. This study was guided by four objectives; to investigate the contribution of family structure and size to the influx of street children in urban areas, to examine the contribution of interaction of town life to the influx of street children in urban areas, to establish social economic factors leading to the influx of street children in urban areas and lastly to establish the interventions adapted by the government and NGO‘s in alleviating the influx of street children problem in urban areas. The study was conducted in Meru Town of Meru County. In this study descriptive research design which is appropriate for behavioral concept was used was used. A total of 90 respondents with 60 male and 30 females, 3 children institutions and 15 parents were used in the study. Data was collected using questionnaires and interview schedules. The study instrument used was questionnaire which was validated through preliminary pilot testing. The test-retest method was used to determine the reliability. Data collected was analyzed using inferential statistics with the help of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The analyzed data was presented in form of frequency tables. The study found out that majority of street children in this study was born in informal settlements within Meru town though 27.1 % of the respondents were living in their own homes they spent most of their time on the streets. According to data parents of 84.8 % children were responsible to push them to the streets while 15.3 % chose to live on streets at their own will. Data revealed that 38.5 % out of 85 street children engaged in work to earn their livelihood under supervision and 61.5 % have their activities without any supervision According to family status of respondents 3.0 % came from well of families, 55.5% belonged to poor families, 30.0 % hailed from lower middle class families, and 11.5% had very poor families. Majority of the children involved themselves in begging and accounted for 34.4 % along with begging, gambling, hawking and serving as parking boys. Collecting and selling scrap metals and plastics was also a favorable economic activity among the street children with 22.3 % indicating this as their occupation. Sexual activities are also one of the risk problems of street children. It was revealed that 36.3 % street children had sexual relationship and 63.8 % were not involved in sexual activities. Regarding harassment by police, county government officials and other adults, the response of 76.5 % street children was in affirmative while 23.5 % was negative. Regarding health, 36.0% street children had good health since last five years, 31.8 % were suffering from diseases since last five years, 29.5 % had weak health since last five years, and 2.8 % were healthy since last five years. The study has given recommendations to all stakeholders.