The representation of street children within international policy by major charities and donors and governments in Africa typically reflects a discourse of street children as ‘out of place’ — the victims of family breakdown or a menace to public order (Connolly and Ennew, 1996; Moore, 2000; UNHCHR, 2012).* Children and young people living and working on the streets of city centres are cited variously as proof of the inequality of development, the weakness of family values, or institutional failure. These young people’s lives are created as contrary to normative versions of childhood. As a result they become legitimised as objects of ‘rehabilitation’ and forced removal from the streets in denial of their rights under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UN, 1989). The stereotypes of street children that shape policy are, however, founded on a paucity of detailed and longitudinal data on the experience of young people growing up on the street (Feeny and Boydon, 2004). UNICEF (2011) point to the limitations of existing survey approaches for capturing data from young people living outside households and in informal conditions. This is a problem accentuated for street children who may lack stability and social support networks but also face vilification as they seek to create adult lives they value.
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