People are probably sick and tired of hearing my "reasons" as to why it is inappropriate for children to be allowed to live on the streets! Well, i actually don't care!! I am sick and tired of children being allowed to live on the streets. Today i just had a simple yet eerie reminder of how vulnerable children living on the streets are to all types of things; especially when it comes to tourists. These children are in the public eye. They are always there. They are easily accessible. Adults use them for all types of things, and because these children need money most of the time, they have become accustomed to doing these "all types of things". They are probably the most accessible yet vulnerable members of society. This is commonly known by tourists, and members of the public, and they use it for their advantage.
So what happened today was really all that big of a deal. It was just more of a reminder of what i just spoke about; that these children are vulnerable and easily accessible to all types of people that "make use" of them for all types of things. I was online and i was googling information about "street children". On a bit of a side note, i visited India in early 2000 for three months, and made friends with many children living on the streets of different cities I visited. One place where i made many little friends was Calcutta, and specifically with the children living on Sudder Street (a very touristy area). So today when i was googling information about "street children", i decided to narrow my search to "street children sudder street". I did a google image search. There were a few pictures of Sudder Street but no kids that i recognized and so i decided to try narrowing it a bit more and adding in a child's name that i remembered. I went with Israel, one of the kids i became closer with, and mostly because it was easy to spell.
"street children Sudder Street Israel". To my surprise, the first two pictures that came up were actual pictures of the kid that i had hung out with over nine years ago! One picture he was by himself, smiling, and leaning up against a taxi. In the other picture he was with a group of other kids i remembered. They were just pictures in someones flicker photo bucket. Probably someone like me who made friends with the kid and took their pictures. It is really not all that big of a deal i guess, but it left me with kind of an eerie feeling. I mean, the pictures were not inappropriate in any way, and the children looked happy. But looking at it from another angle, if you were just a suburban parent, and you went to google image and you googled your child's name, and pictures actually came up that you were not aware of, wouldn't it sit a little funny with you? Ok, i think i might be blowing this a little out of proportion because Israel is not my kid, and i don't even know that he doesn't know that his picture is online. Maybe he does. But whether i am overreacting or not it was a reminder for me as to how accessible and vulnerable these children are and just how many people have access to them!
I specifically remember having a long conversation one day with that very kid about how many of the young boys on Sudder Street have sex with foreigners for money. I remember being gutted as i was sitting there listening to that 12 year old (approximately at the time) tell me about these things, and not shying away from including himself. So seeing that picture of him online, looking about the same age as when i met him, just made me sit and think about where he might be now, nine years later. How old he must be, how hardened he might be, how much he has been subjected to, and how many people he has had contact with that have used him, exploited him and abused him for their own pleasure or purposes. This is just one example of one kid. I just thought i would share my experience with you.