Stateless, homeless and abandoned children and youth

I like your thoughts Brian… still waiting on your solution though… You have strong opinions… without any follow up… but then who does have a follow up? This is an empty debate… because there is no end to it…

Thanks Brian…i dont read the mail…interesting fact, I am a socialist. Before you berate my comments…look at what happens elsewhere in Europe and the World…are you really suggesting that there are as many migrant kids thrown onto the streets of the other European countries…really? can you prove that? the UK does have a more tolerant nature…not entirely but then that would be suicide for the system in the UK if everyone was given free citizenship. Whats happening is shocking…no one wants to see kids on the street…but the people who put them there bear the responsibility. Any child on the streets if they wander into a police station will be offered care, support and yes, quite possibly will be returned from whence they came…but if there is a better way Brian…then do tell us.

Carol, NO, emphatically NO. That is journalistic licence about boats and lorries heading for the UK. A few do get in that way, not that many. This story is UK focussed from a UK research insititute and UK charities looking at the issues. Those issues are in the UK. The UK is no different, no better or worse to anywhere else. So don't Daily Mail us with things like it being 'a huge problem more overbearing than almost any other European country' unless you can substantiate those words.

Everybody, but Simon very specifically. I went to Peru for doctoral fieldwork on internal migration, in fact return migration from unsuccessful attempts to live in big cities. In the course of events it turned into street children being the ones remaining behind. Although I try to say I have not worked on street children since the eraly 1990s, every now and again I get pulled back into it.

Naturally, I have moved away from that to do other things and normally say my work is in the field of children's rights. That is a catch all. I have also moved away frrom developing countries to working anywhere and everywhere and child migration catches me up very often. Illegal especially. There is a popular euphemism 'children on the move' that NGOs and Un agencies bandy around genrously that this falls into/under.

There is a popular myth that the UK with its state welfare system is the destination for a lot of migrants. Geographically that is problematic with it being an island. The notion of ships unloading illegal migrants or planes landing on private airfields is in the realm of fantasy, although a few journalists have said 'it DOES happen' without any proof whatsoever. So, my work experience over four decades takes in the UK, of course, also the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Sitzerland, Portugal and a bit of Italy. I have absolutely no doubt whatsover that France must be in that club, I cannot imagine any country being without these migrants given the extent of the waves of economic migration at present.

Does the UK have a more lenient care system? I am not entirely sure. I would say Norway and Sweden do but there is a small population so it is harder to 'hide' there. I agree on child asylum seekers, but before we arrived there the question is how they are getting in.

The age question is contentious. Some of them are clearly very young, unaccompanied 10 and 12 year olds are different to those claiming to be 16. It can be difficult to differentiate between a 16 and 18 year old, likewise between a 14 and 16 year old, but at lower ages it simply should not matter. The UK's social assessements are eccentric, perhaps eclecticism of the most English kind, at the end of the day they really do no better that the medical models the rest of the world use. Somebody with a delayed physical development because of malnutrition alone... Too many denominators in an awfully big pot.

Then, omitted thus far, the unregistered children of illegal immigrants who are eventually turned out onto the street. they are stateless but without any real connection to their 'place of origin'. They grow up in the UK and know and are told anyway, that the state will look after them and are, as studies alreday suggest, happy to get away from home with a chance of making a real life in the UK.

I'm flitting through it very superficially but 40 years in I am still shocked that the west lives in total denial and yet has problems like this that were portrayed by Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo and have NEVER gone away. It is there under people's noses but they simply do not or cannot see. But then I have been told by Ministers of Governments in a number of countries that they have no street children at all. The ones I see, according to them, are out there going about their daily business but go home later.

We are not going to solve it so easily, if we ever do. I am now a man of 'age' so I doubt I have enough years to see much change. When I had just left my teens into my twenties I was going to end it. Now I have serious doubts. What I advocate is ending the turning a bind eye to this and similar phenomena at least. Since the Un Convention on the Rights of the Child began to be drafted in 1979, through it adoption in 1989 and almost universal ratification by all states but Somalia and the USA (yes) to present, there is hope IF the nations who are party to what this proposes live up to what they commit themselves to.

Actually…I would say its interesting the problem is so UK based…obviously a lot of foreign folk decide they will be better looked after in the UK than anywhere else…

I heard the same Brian. Sadly the children are from families who abandon them…they are from families who are not legal in the UK and dont want to have to travel or support their children. Not the same as the discussion we were having before about children in food queues in the UK where it was apparently assumed they were British kids starving because they fell outside the benefits system or their parents did. Doesnt make it ok…but its different. We have a huge number of people in the UK who come without permission via boats and lorries…a huge problem more overbearing than almost any other European country. Whats the answer? who knows…it doesnt help the kids…but then the kids have a bad hand from the word go with parents who obviously dont want them.

And Lis, I agree with you... it doesn't make sense unfortunately... again what can we do?

You make some great points Simon... but still the basic fact is... none of us can come up with a solution... is there one? I'm an Aussie.. and back home, we are dealing with refugees on boats, of all ages... what do we do? It's swings and round abouts... as I said in my last post... sometimes we just have to accept it and do the best we can... there is no fix all... And If someone does find a fix all and prove me wrong... I'll put all I have behind it to help it happen!

There is no fix-all, this is true, Katie. However, I would certainly agree with the notion that a lot of local authorities are "age disputing" this young people, who arrive in the UK without documentation. Some will have already come to the attention of the authorities in other countries prior to arriving in the UK, but will have claimed an older age so that they do not become cared-for in the other EU country - the UK is more attractive and have a more lenient social care system for children; and the asylum system is also more generous in its decision-making of child applicants. There is a pull towards the UK for a lot of reasons, however the notion of local authorities carrying out age assessments has really only taken a significant step in children's social care in the past 10 years outside of the metropolitan areas of the UK and more recently an increasing number of young people's age claims are being rejected by local authority Children's departments. They are then left with the dilemma of whether to claim support from NASS as an adult and be treated as an adult asylum claimant, or whether to stick to their original claim and become destitute. The UK's age assessment process is a turbulent arena and a process which does not follow the same processes as many other European countries - the UK's system of age assessment is a social model, whereas many EU countries follow a medical model.

So there we find many young people on the streets, having to turn to illegal worker, involvement in drugs and prostitution (and not just the young women). Many of the young people from the countries identified in the BBC article are those high-volume age dispute countries too, where it is very difficult to determine a young person's age due to lack of documentation, structure and a system of calendar and importance of dates in the culture.

So what is the answer? It is just not a simple one. Do we have the "child snatchers" notion? Young people aged 16 in the UK are entitled to leave home and, whilst it is not advised by local authorities and other agencies, can start to make their own way in the world. We do need to think about the culture of disbelief that has evolved over recent years as immigration rules have become ever tighter in the UK. Perhaps we need reception centres for these young people where a proper assessment can be done in an independent and impartial way using a multi-disciplinary assessment model? This would come at a cost, but it would certainly be more economical than foster care models.

This is a European-wide issue, but perhaps one that the UK feels is an acute one. After all, the UK is about as far west as it is possible to go, apart from Ireland. The UK prides itself in human rights and a strong welfare system, so of course it will be a more attractive option. And when the young people arrive in the UK, some are surprised that the streets are not paved with gold as they may have been led to believe by the traffickers.

I have a feeling this issue is going to run for some time, and without a significant injection of cash to sort out the system, it is only going to get worse. Given the current financial climate any government putting more cash into immigration issues is unlikely to happen.

I'd be interested to hear about your research further Brian. It is an area that I have had some previous experience with.

Saw the news this morning, where this sad problem was mentioned. They interviewed a few young people, one young guy told the film crew that returning home, knocking on his family front door, he was thold to go away and not come back? It breaks your heart to see these young people, and a lot of them were broungt into the UK by family members, for who knows what and then thrown away like gabage - why do people some people have children? You have to have a licence for shooting, fishing, driving a car and the rest, however, children anybody can have.... :(

I agree with your thoughts in this post Brian... so what do you suggest we do, as a global community, to help them? I also look at the fact that there are far worse off children in under developed countries... what do we do to help them? I know that most of our charity money goes to support the people behind the charities, and not those most in need... honestly.. what are we able to do? My only thought is offering foster care... but as an adoptee myself.. I know this is not always the best alternative... Sometimes we just have to accept the world as it is... warts and all; and do the best we can on a day to day level to help others! There is no fix all!