Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cheated of Childhood: Russian Street Children

"This picture taken by Polish photographer Hanna Polak and handed out 19 December 2006 by UNICEF shows Russian street children Roma (4 years), Svieta (5 years) and Sergiey (12 years) living next to warm tubes in a dirty and unhealthy environment in Moscow. Hanna Polak, freelancer, won with her picture the third prize of the "UNICEF Picture of the Year 2006" award."---HANNA POLAK/AFP/Getty Images

Here is a video called "Cheated of Childhood" about the lives of street children in St. Petersburg and the adults who are trying to help them:

At first sight, 11 year old Yuriy and his 13 year old friend Max look like normal, happy children. But after family problems forced them to leave home, they've been reduced to living on the streets. "For me, the most dangerous thing about living on the street is paedophiles," states Max. "I know a lot of people who have been abused." Despite this risk, both boys would rather remain homeless than return to their families. Max and Yuriy are just two of the millions of children thought to be living on the streets. Once homeless, many children turn to glue sniffing and become infected with HIV. The issue of street children is a relatively new problem for Russia. The collapse of communism triggered many family breakdowns, driving children as young as seven onto the streets. The fear is that if something is not done to help them now, it may be too late to save future generations.

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