Homeless Children and Youths in Lagos, Nigeria: Their Characteristics, Street Life and Sexual Behaviour
AbstractThis paper is based on a study carried out on homeless children and youths in Lagos, Nigeria. The study was aimed at understanding the characteristics, street life and sexual behaviour of homeless children and youths as well as the causes, problems and policy implications of homelessness. A survey of 447 homeless children and youths in three purposively selected parts of Lagos metropolis was done. The results show that majority of the respondents were males. They had low level of education and were from poor and large families most of which were polygynous. Parental neglect, discontent at home, marital instability in family of orientation, poverty and peer influence were the major causes of being on the street. They slept under bridges, at the beach, in motor parks and vehicles, in market places, and in uncompleted buildings. Their survival strategies include engaging in some income-yielding activities such as carrying load, being bus conductors, packing refuse, buying and selling, engaging in commercial sex and begging. Substance abuse and engaging in risky sexual behaviour were common. They faced the problem of insecurity, police harassment and all forms of exploitation and maltreatment from social miscreants (area boys). They were also predisposed to a number of hazards including sexual abuse, molestation and health hazards. The paper concludes by making recommendations for policy based on the findings.
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