Government action on child begging
Minister Mary Hanafin TD, Minister for Children, has today (18 October 2001) announced that the Government is actively tackling child begging in a variety of ways, recognising that it is a complex and multifaceted problem.
Speaking at the ISPCC launch of the evaluation report on the Leanbh “Responding to Child Begging” Service Minister Hanafin said, “Children begging on our streets is a concern for all of us as these children are losing out on home life, education and the enjoyment of childhood.”
The project has identified that the majority of clients are Travellers, Roma or homeless, and research indicates that the practice of begging is mostly organised, often supported by adults, and takes many different forms e.g. begging, busking and windscreen cleaning.
The Children Act 2001 specifically addresses the question of child begging, introducing among other things a provision that makes it an offence for a child to be allowed by an adult to beg. The responsibility for both the child and the begging is placed on the parents or guardian and the onus is on them to prove that they did not send the child out to beg rather than on the State to prove that they did.
Increased investment on child welfare and family support projects totalling over £90m in additional funding over the past 4 years will lead to families being identified and supported at an early stage. The Youth Homeless Strategy, which will be launched shortly, will strengthen this work.
Minister Hanafin said, “The Government is happy to support the Leanbh Project which works with children begging and their families and has allocated £90,000 to the project for the next 3 years.”
Children need the input of a variety of agencies and groups and a project such as Leanbh can be a useful channel to provide such a service.