The Alliance for Conflict Transformation on Saturday published a report into the challenges faced by children working on the streets of Phnom Penh, many of whom are unable to attend school and suffer multiple health problems.
The study interviewed 70 children, 10 parents and nine local authority officials from Chamkarmon, Daun Penh, Meanchey and Toul Kork districts.
Most of the children were found to be doing jobs such as selling flowers or animal feed and cleaning windows.
Of the children interviewed for the report, 15 had never been to school, while a further 10 had dropped out.
The children said they were unable to attend school because their families were poor, suffer health problems or domestic violence, have no access to transport, or were in debt.
Some said their parents don’t allow them to study because they want them to earn money for the family.
Despite this, 43 of the children were in school.
However, these children were mostly attending primary school and many said they would be unable to continue to high school due to insufficient family income and a lack of time to study.
The report said most street children in Phnom Penh face health and safety issues while they work, as well as societal stigma.
It said 44 children reported health problems including a lack of nutrition, insufficient food, regular illness and poor hygiene.
Some said they only eat twice a day, because they have to earn enough money for each meal.
ACT executive director Srey Sotheavy yesterday said the report will be sent to the Ministry of Social Affairs.
“Street children hope for a better life just like other children, but they often feel hopeless and need support,” she said.
Toch Chany, a spokesman for the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the state is working hard to keep children off the streets.
“We set up centres and schools for them, but some return to their life on the streets because they want to work with their parents and earn money,” he said.