Factors contributing to the increase of street children in Meru municipality
The quest for this study was to examine factors contributing to the increase of street children in Meru municipality in Imenti north sub-county. The study was guided by three objectives and research questions. These objectives are; to establish how poverty contributes to the number of street children in Meru municipality, to establish how family status contribute to the number of street children in Meru municipality, to asses how child abuse contributes to the number of street children in Meru municipality. The study was guided by social development theory coined by Erik Erikson (New York 1969). Relevant literature reviewed revealed that there are several factors that contribute to increase of street children in Meru municipality. The study was mainly qualitative. It employed descriptive research design which was preferred because it allowed the researcher to conduct in-depth interviews and observation schedules to gather both factual information systematically and also record the characteristics of interest as they occur. The secondary target population was 950 children. Three rehabilitation centers were purposively sampled to participate in the study. These are SOS children‟s village in Meru, Kaaga MCK street children‟s home, Jerusha Mwiraria children‟s home. Purposive, stratified and simple random sampling methods were used to determine respondents. Data was collected through open and close ended questionnaires. The categories of respondents were street children, children in rehabilitation centers and administrators from the three centers. The study revealed that there are many socio-economic factors contributing to the increase of street children in Meru municipality ranging from poverty, lawlessness, alcohol and drug abuse, social permissiveness family break-up, child abuse and inadequate good will from the governments towards supporting poor families evidenced by lack of feeding programmers‟ in public primary schools and free primary education. The study concluded that there was an urgent need for the government to facilitate provision of feeding programmes, in public primary school‟s, compulsory free primary education should be enforced and stakeholders sensitized on their roles to promote street children to access quality education. The study recommends that the church focuses on spiritual formation and teaching on marriage and family life to strengthen the basic unit of society, which is the safety net for the children. The government as well as the civil society should spearhead massive education on the rights of children .This would reduce the rampant of children rights brought about through ignorance.