Desperate children, especially pre-teens, are at most risk on the streets without adult protection. Many of these kids have fled from impoverished conditions in their villages and search for better lives in urban centers. Still more emigrate from Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, to escape not only hardship, but also military repression. They all come looking for better options but many, end up living, sleeping and begging on the streets and with limited choices those offered can be fraught with danger.
Two kids at Khun Ja’s Children Protection and Development Life Skill Center (CPLC), which is also known as the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Abuse Center (ATCC).
The major threat for these children alone on the streets is human trafficking. Thai nationals are prone to this danger, but more so are refugees and migrants from neighboring countries, who are here illegally. Without any documentation, they have little recourse when forced into miserable slave-like labor by recruiting agencies.
Many defenseless children become victims to the austerities of the fishing industry, where they are at sea for extremely long stints, or the garment trade, where they work lengthy hours in prison-like conditions, as well as organized begging, where they have to meet minimum targets or suffer the consequences.
The worst-case scenario for the children at risk, though, is being forced into prostitution. They are usually kept in lockdown environments as well and must work and live under wretched circumstances. Even without predatory agencies, a child on the street is still vulnerable to perverts and pedophiles.
But the bad news does not stop here for children of the poor. Even if the child has parents and a home environment there can still be danger lurking in the specter of physical and sexual abuse.
The staff at the Fountain of Life for children report that abuse usually occurs in the home or by someone known by the child in the community. Physical abuse is easier to detect as the wounds or scars can be visible and/or the child will tell the staff. When this is discovered the parents or guardians are called in for council and, if it does not abate, they tell them that the police will have to be informed.
Sexually abused children are more difficult to discern and deal with. First of all, if there are no outward physical marks, the staff might only find out from the child or his or her friends. This then has to be verified by a hospital before the parents and police are notified. This is a serious crime and can result in prolonged incarceration for the perpetrators.
Still another risky situation for children in their homes is when the parents are involved in drug dealing. This immediately makes the environment a dangerous one for the kids in terms of exposure to the drugs and clientele. What is more, the parents can get arrested, which is not an uncommon occurrence, leaving the kids alone to fend for themselves.
The problem of protecting children at risk is combated by many of our beneficiaries. The government, too, establishes emergency shelters, which provide refuge for the destitute and abandoned, as well as those who have suffered from domestic violence or sexual abuse.
In 2004, we built one of these shelters for girls and young women at the Eastern Child Welfare Protection Institute in Rayong along with the Pattaya International Ladies Club (PILC) and Pattaya Sports Club (PSC). We also teamed up in the same year to renovate the Chonburi emergency facility in Banglamung.
In addition to emergency shelters, orphanages are also safe havens and the Ban Jing Jai Foundation, which harbors 80-plus orphans, is one of our core beneficiaries. In this category, we also assist the Father Ray Foundation, the Child Protection and Development Life Skills Center and the Mercy Center.
Special schools that board the disabled also protect children at risk, such as the School for the Blind, Camillian Home and Khao Baisri Special Education, which are also main beneficiaries for us.
Furthermore, the Fountain of Life Center, which is our target charity, was created to help the children at risk and give them viable options for a brighter future. This center is a day-care facility that focuses on slum-dwelling kids and advises their parents or guardians about the danger of them being left on the streets, drugs, abuse and the importance of education. The Fountain of Life Center was our very inspiration that brought the Jesters Care for Kids Charity Drive into existence back in 1998.
Before a child is admitted to the Center, the staff visits the child’s family and assesses the living situation to be sure it is suitable. Follow up visits ensue to be sure that there are no problems at home.
While the children are at the center, they learn life skills, manners, behavior and about their culture, as they are being prepared for entering government schools. The kids also learn about the Declaration of Rights of a Child, which states that they should be free of any abuse in their home and community.
Additionally, they learn about becoming self-confident, taking on responsibility, self-protection and looking after each other. Therapy sessions and counseling are also always available for both children and parents.
Everyone needs to know about the real danger of children at risk. You can help too by helping us protect the kids through many of our beneficiaries mentioned above. For more information, please visit us at www.care4kids.info and/or www.facebook.com/jesterscare.forkids.
Please also remember that our Main Events in Pattaya are: The Children’s Fair, Sunday, September 9th and Gala Party Night Saturday, September 22nd