Self Esteem Among Street Children in Chennai City

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Self Esteem Among Street Children in Chennai City

The Phenomenon of the street children is a recent one. It is stated that the Latin American countries were the first to recognize it in their cities being the phenomenon of a magnitude and size which warranted the attention of all concerned. However the problem of street children is global one and exists in both, the developed as well as developing countries, with a difference in its size and magnitude. These countries have some kinds of micro levels of rehabilitation measures. But much remains to be done in this field.

Street children is a trem – shaking uncontrollably as a result of anxiety, excitement or weakness which often highlights a certain set of working and living conditions rather than personal and social characteristics of the individual children them selves. So often, Children in these conditions are victims of stereotypes such as “Juvenile delinquents “ on the part of the public and authorities . The term “street children” should refer to all children who work in the street of urban areas without reference to the time they spend there or the reasons for being there.” (National workshop on street children, 29 and 30 August 1998)

The other terminologies for street children have been using is,

“children without families”

“ high –risk children”

“Unattached Children”

“Children in need of care and protection”

“Abandoned children”

The UNICEF has called them “children in difficult circumstance”.

Around the part of the world the Terminology of street children used in different

ways as follows,

In Naples ,” SCUGIZZO ” derives from the work for spinning – top always


In Peru, the “ PAJARO FRUTERO” (Fruit bird) earns his name looking out for the police in the market place.

In Colombia “GAMIN” (Kid) is Borrowed from the French, but has strongly negative connotations. The same world appears in RWANDA in the form “SALIGOMAN” (Sale gamin, Nasty kid).

In Zaire, street children are “MOINEAUX” (Sparrows)

In Cameroon, “POUSSINS” (Chicks) to field Workers, MOUSTIQUES” (Mosquitoes) to the police . Others have proposed the term “twilight children” to suggest their fragile and indefinite status.

Officialdom, in contrast, tends to be more circumspect and refers to street children euphemistically as “children in an irregular situation.” So, The street children is a most vulnerable and high – risk group in the society. According to UNICEF, they can be classified into three categories as follows.

Street children on the street (children with continuous family contact)

Street Children of the street (Children with occasional family contact)

Abandoned and Neglected children ( children without family)

One of the negative consequences of Urbanization in the world, particularly in the developing countries , is the existence of a large proportion of the urban poor living in slums and pavements many families do not find any shelter. The forces of modernization including industrialization and urbanization, coupled with the appalling condition of poverty have adversely affected the family life.

Illiteracy, broken family, III–treatment, parent left, Death of parents and orphans and poverty are the key factor that forced to runaway from home and living on the street at major metropolitan cities, particularly in chennai. The population of street children in chennai is around 1,00,000 Most of the street children are drop-outs from school.

Most of the time they are living on the street, without having basic general needs of food, clothing and shelter, psychological needs of love, protection and recognition and social needs of social interaction, acceptance and maturity. They are not able to get care and support from family as well as society.

Condition of street children

The most vulnerable are the runaway boys and girls who live on the railway station, bus station, market place, pavements, streets and do odd jobs like rag picking cup collecting, coolie, begging, cleaning the rail boogies, small hotels etc. These children live on pavements and street with sky as their shelter and no one to care for with love and affection.

The condition of street children is a sad reality that this section of the population are neglected, delinquent and are uncared for. They are a new and rapidly increasing group of vulnerable, deprived and exploited children in our cities.

Chennai NGO forum for street and working children conducted a survey on street children in 1996 with the support of UNICEF. This survey was conducted with the following objective:

To enumerate the number of children of children who were on the street in the city of chennai.

To find out the conditions of the street children in the city of Chennai

On the basis of the survey, it was estimated that the number of street children in the city of chennai would be around 75, 000. If one were to include the children bellow 6 years and the teenagers on the street, the population would be as high as 1.5 lakhs. They were covered under survey only 6 to 18 years children.

Most of them earn their livelihood doing odd jobs like picking rags, or recycling garbage, shining shoes, washing cars and the like. Their employers often exploit them sexually. In addition, most economic activities of the street children are controlled by territories, each of which is guarded fiercely by its members, who react violent if threatened . In this struggle for survival the competition is ruthless and only the fittest survive. To survive, They work for three hours a day on an average, either in the morning or in the evening, and with their earning they meet their daily expense. Whenever they need advance money for their expenses, they get from the waste paper shop owners for which they would sell their collection of waste only to that particular shop.

The waste paper shop is also their place of stay after their work. During their Leisure hours, they go for movies, regularly take drug, pills and injection and at night have sex with local CSWs at a cheaper rate. This involves the risk of acquiring AIDS and spreading it. They have homosexual habit also. The drugs they use includes brown sugar.

Family background

Most of the street children are living on the streets away from their family due to some of the following reasons, Abuse, violence, poverty, broken family, Peer group pressure, attractions on city life, dislike towards studies, frustration, orphan and others.

These street children have no one to care for them except their peer with whom they live on the streets. As they are away from home and school environment , the informal social control could only play a major role in their life in shaping the character and behaviour of these children.

The above stated variations have been affecting street children’s Self- esteem very deeply. Self esteem refers to the extent to which they expect to be accepted and valued by the adults and peers who are important to them. Even though self- esteem has been studied for more than 100 years, specialists and educators continue to debate its precise nature and development. But they generally agree that parents and other adults who are important to children play a major role in laying a solid foundation for a child’s development.

What is self – Esteem?

When parents and teachers of young children talk about the need for good self – esteem , they usually mean that children should have “ Good feelings” about themselves. With young children, self-esteem children refers to the extent to which they expect to be accepted and valued by the adults and peers who are important to them.

Children with a healthy self – esteem feel that the important adults in their lives accept them, care about them, and would go out of their way to ensure that they are safe and well . They feel that those adults would be upset if anything happened to them and would miss them if they were separated. Children with low self – esteem, on the other hand, feel that the important adults and peers in their life do not accept them, do not care about them very much, and would not go out of their way to ensure their safety and well –being.

During their early years, young children’s self- esteem is based largely on their perceptions of how the important adults in their lives judge them. The extent to which children believe they have the characteristics valued by the important adults and peers in their lives figures greatly in the development of Self – esteem. For example, in families and communities that value athletic ability highly, Children who excel in athletics are likely to have a high level of Self – esteem, Whereas children who are less athletic or who are criticized as being physically inept or clumsy are likely to suffer from low self – esteem.

Families, communities, and ethnic and cultural groups vary in the criteria on which self – esteem in based.

Children with self- esteem

Keeping self – esteem alive is necessary to every human being. It is the daily food of emotional health. Mother Teresa said that “each of us has a mission to fulfill, a mission to live, but that it must begin in our homes …. In the place where we are, with the people with when we are closest, and then spread out, “

Nurturing self- esteem in children, creating opportunities for success, facilitating a positive self – image are all important influences on a child’s healthy development.

Lack of self- esteem that damages a child’s self –image could interfere with a child’s ability to learn and relate.

To enhance a child’s self esteem is to be a positive force in a loving relationship and thereby make a worthwhile contribution to the world.

Many parents are unwittingly aiding their children to fail and have low self- esteem.

First we must define what every child needs. Every child needs to get parental approval.

for his or her own sense or personhood

for his or her sense of proven ability

for his or her sense of individuality

for set realistic achievement goals

to provide a framework of meaningful values

Typical sources of low self- esteem in children

In most cases, low self- esteem in children, stems from unfortunate childhood experiences. The greatest gift we as parents can give to our children is sound self- esteem. When we fail to give it we unconsciously build low self- esteem in our children.

A Parent’s own low self –esteem is a model for the child

A Child’s lack of recognition and appreciation by parents and others as an intrinsically valuable and important individual, can mar his self esteem. Phrases like “A child should be seen and not heard, “Mother knows best”, etc. demonstrate that the child’s needs, feelings, desires and opinions are not given due consideration.

A child sometimes makes self-deprecating comparisons of himself with those of his own age whom he admires for their strength and ability , their popularity, self –confidence and achievements. To make matters worse, his parents, family and friends compare him unfavourite brother or sister. This overpowers the child with devastating sense of inferiority.

A child feels inadequate because he is not encouraged and motivated to be independent, to do what he can for himself – to take responsibility for his ability as he grows in age and experience. The child is not taught to think for himself.

The false concepts, values and reactions of a child’s Parents, Teachers and peers, cause him to identify himself with his actions. For example, Mohan, whose mother had a severe migraine, is a “ bad boy” because he slammed the door. Whereas, in reality it was only his natural exuberance and lack of awareness that caused the act. This may load the child with self condemnation, shame, guilt and remorse.

Harsh and demanding parents set unreasonable standard, often raising them before the child has developed the ability to meet them. Parents may also subject their children to unreasonable, harsh criticism and undue and/or inconsistent punishment. Such actions cause early frustration, defeatism, and a destructive sense of inadequacy and inferiority.

A child being pushed beyond his capacity by the parents’ vicarious needs to achieve a sense of worth and importance through the child’s achievements often causes a deep feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness in the child.

Rivalry and unsuccessful emulation of an extremely bright or gifted brother or sister, or of an exceptionally talented and prominent parent often generates a deep sense of hopelessness and inferiority.

A child’s unflattering physical appearance and/or “odds” apparel, plus perhaps physical, mental, or emotional handicaps damage his sense of self worth.

A child raised on the basis of “ Reward and punishment”, rather than being motivated through understanding and allowed to make his own mistakes and to accept and resolve, so suffer the consequences develops low self –esteem.

Adverse economic, social, cultural, or ethnic position of parents and family often invite depreciation and ridicule.

Over possessiveness, over permissiveness, and undue control exercise by one, or both parents, nurtures a feeling of un – importance and lack of esteem in the child.

A serious sense of guilt is frequently induced by one’s material wealth or affluent background.

High values place on money, achievement and thing rather than on the individual and his innate worth, can preclude or destroy one’s self – esteem.

Repeated defeats and failures can destroy one’s sense of self- worth and result in one or two extremes. The child may become a drop-out from school or society or he may become a compulsive over achiever in a desperate attempt to “ prove himself”

Procrastination and lack of self – discipline, taking the path of least resistance, tend to demolish one’s self respect and sense of worth.

Lack of sense of meaning and purpose in life, of clear goals and objectives, preclude sound self – esteem; Key to High self – esteem.

The secret to inner peace lies in self – affirmation.

Need for the study

Bring to the end, many studies have concentrated on street children situational analysis, case studies and one study on street children on the independent variation of sex, age, education relationship between father and mother were conducted.

But no study was conducted in relation with street children’s self – esteem and so I have taken this problem for my project study. Because the street children are the important component of the developing country. but they are not in the main stream of the society. they are neglected from the family, school and social setup even they are having positive self – esteem about themselves which is not recognized by the existing social system. the street children’s perception towards the society is negative one.


Many psychologists state that our self –image is affected by all type experience. We have successes , failures, compliments, Put down personal experiences, our expectation and others expectation of us.

In 1657, Augustine Baker, a mystical theologian and Benedictine monk declared “self – esteem, Self- judgment and self – will” to be the there requisites of independence, the term had been used by scholars in Latin and Ancient Greeks, Plato, Aristotle and others. Thesaurus synonyms are “ self- reliance”, “self- consequence”, “poise”, “ confidence”, “ assurance”, “Pride” or “self- sufficiency”. Antonyms are “self – doubt” and “self – effacement” to “self- hatred” and “ shame”.

Therefore , the self- esteem provides an essential Thread that ties together various aspects of functioning. Low Level of self – esteem have been linked to confusion and disorganization with in a construct system. It would appear that low level of interrogation derived from grids developed to test the construction of others do not strongly imply that low level of interrogation will be found when the grids are based upon the construction of self.

No society can afford to ignore the street children .They are society’s future. They are to be integrated with the main stream of social development and to be provided with the opportunities to grow in sound mental and physical health in a appropriate social environment.

The human resource development approach has to be applied while dealing with all team, and it is sure that given all opportunities of their development, in their turn they can contribute immensely to the all round development of the society.

This study was conducted to mainly assess the level of self – esteem among street and school children to ascertain the possible reasons for higher or lower self – esteem.


Studying the level of self – esteem among street and school children.


To find out the level of self – esteem between school children and street children.

To find out the level of self –esteem between boys and girls among street children and school children.

To develop and recommend the remedial measures to overcome low elf esteem of street children.


There will be significant difference between school children and street children in their level of self – esteem.

There will be significant difference between street boys and girls in their level of self – esteem.

There will be significant difference between street boys and school boys in their level of self – esteem.

There will be significant difference between street girls and school girls in their level of self – esteem.

There will be significant difference between school boys and girls in their level of self – esteem.


Using Random sampling method for the study 120 school and street children were selected among these 120 children , 60 were boys and 60 were girls. Their age ranged from 12 to 17 years. Justification of age selection is, below 12 years the children are not able to recognize and express their self – esteem properly , so above 12 years has been selected for the study .

Tool used

The index of self –esteem by walter W.Hudson was found to be the most suitable tool to measure the self – esteem levels. The total questionnaire is 25

Statistical Analysis

The Collected date was analysed, the Mean, standard deviation, ‘t’ Value was established to test the hypotheses


The Level of Self – esteem of school children is lower than the level of street children, that means street children were having high level of self – esteem.

There is no gender different in the level of self –esteem of street children.

The level of self –esteem of the street boys is higher than school boys.

The Level of self – esteem of the street girls is higher than school girls.

The Level of self – esteem of school girls is higher than school boys.


An analysis of data collected being done, the following conclusion were arrived at. The Level of Self – esteem identified by the school children is lower than the level of street children, that means street children were having high level of self – esteem. The level of self – esteem developed by the street children boys and girls is the same. The level of self –esteem accumulated by the street boys is higher than school boys. The Level of self – esteem indicated by the street girls is higher than school girls.


The sample was limited only in the age group of 12 to17 years

street and school children.

It was done only in Chennai city.

The sample size was small.

The self esteem questionnaires was given to the street children and school children separately.

Implications of the study

One of the first steps in encouraging healthy self – esteem in children is to : establish good relationships with them. Persons in good, relationship is ultimately what the world is all about . Relationships which are mutually loving and caring , honest and supportive create an atmosphere for healthy human growth and great self – esteem.

Emotionally, children are easily threatened by anyone bigger, older or more confident than they are not yet possessing the well – developed defended adults usually have, children’s sense of self is still Fragile vulnerable and easily knocked down. for example, children often don’t understand the significant difference chronological age can make in their performance. younger children may feel stupid because their older siblings appear smarter .they do not realize older children have had more time than they for learning skills, physical growth, greater muscle control, more practice and mare experience in sports, school, the arts and so on. younger children need to understand they may be years behind in eyepiece but not necessarily in intelligence.

When they get threats from others, they think of themselves as unlovable, incompetent, unimportant and un wanted misfits. threat brings on feelings of insecurity embarrassment ; failure and fear abounds inside them . So threat is too be avoided.

What Adults can do to boost self – esteem in children?

Acknowledge a child’s right to emotions.

Provides outlets for strong feelings.

allow time for strong feelings to cool off.

connect yourself with their strong emotions.

help relieve stress with some thing physical.

show that you can accept even the undesirable.

encourage children to talk to other adults.

help children by telling them stories.

what parents can do ?

Apart from this, in order to build great self – esteem in children, parents need to.

Be an example of self – value, self – love and self p celebration.

Respect your child as a unique never – to -be- repeated miracle of good.

Lead your child to feel loved , Valued and respected for his / her own self.

Make your child responsible for his/ her actions and conduct.

Help your child to feel capable of accomplishing things on his/her own.

Show your child that each day is full of joys and wonderful experiences.

Give sincere praise and appreciation for every good experience.

Let your child find him self through your guidance. Don’t make him a robot or rubber stamp of yourself.

Invest time and energy to help your child achieve greatness.

Lead your child to Improve with each event, not compete with others who may be more beautiful smarter or wealthier . these are False standards of greatness and make one all but feel like a loser the winner in the one who is doing his best for his own sake. Be consistent in your discipline and lead your child to agree as to proper conduct. Empress praise for good behavior and don’t destroy the value of praise by withholding praise when improper conduct occurs. Teach children not to use self put- downs Teach them how to give tem selves self – support self – value, and self – assurance.

Parents can play an Important role in strengthening children’s self – esteem by treating them respect fully , taking their views and opinions seriously, and expressing appreciation to them above all, parents must keep in mind that self – esteem is an important part of every child’s development.

he is a development workers in India

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