The most vulnerable children are those who live without the supervision of a responsible adult. They must do what they can to protect and feed themselves.
Sadly these children are looked on in the society as deserving of their situation. This is due to a belief in reincarnation and karma. When upper caste people see these children, they assume that they are receiving a punishment for evil deeds done in previous incarnations.
Shockingly the local police, instead of investigating the origins of these children in order to find their parents or place them in proper care, often bully them and frequently take away from the children the little money that they earn.
UNICEF has estimated that over 18 million children live and work on the streets and railway platforms of India.
Not all of these children are orphans. Some have moved to the city to work with their families. Others are lost children or runaways escaping abusive homes.
Children living in institutions not designed with parental-like structure are reported to perform poorly on intelligence tests and to be slow learners with specific difficulties in language and social development, in comparison to children with foster parents.
In addition, they have problems concentrating and forming emotional relationships, and were
often described as attention-seeking. The lack of an emotional attachment to a mother figure during early childhood was attributed as the cause of these problems.
Although many are well meaning and able to keep children off the streets and fed, institutional style orphanages cannot meet many of the basic emotional and relational needs of children. Oftentimes they admit impoverished children instead of helping them with what they need to say with their families.
Emotional, behavioural and intellectual impairments characterise children who have
been raised in residential care from infancy.
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