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Research by geographers at the University of Dundee, involving street children/youth as participants and researchers, has produced findings that influenced UN and national policies.  



Despite widespread ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), street children’s rights are rarely recognised or upheld.

Street children/youth are deprived of their basic rights such as food, shelter, fair and just treatment, health care, education, and protection. States globally fail to protect street children/youth against rights violations.



Growing up on the Streets (GUOTS) was an eight-year (2012-19) academic–practitioner research collaboration between the University of Dundee and UK-based street children charity StreetInvest, exploring street children/youth’s lived experiences.

It involved 628 street children/youth: 229 key participants, plus a network of 399 street children/youth, creating the largest ever database of their lives.



Findings have been shared globally through bespoke training and a Knowledge Exchange Training Pack (KETP). The KETP has been adopted by 161 organisations across 67 countries and at least 2597 young people have been trained across multiple countries.

GUOTS research directly informed the UN General Comment 21 on Children in Street Situations 2017 which provides guidance to states on developing comprehensive, long-term national strategies for children in street situations.

KETP resources were used in international Street Child United sporting events, including the Street Child Games (Rio 2016), Street Child World Cup (Moscow 2018), and Street Child Cricket World Cup (London 2019).

In 2020, the KETP was used in India with over 500 street children/youth in assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their rights


More information 

Institution: University of Dundee

Researcher: Professor Lorraine van Blerk 

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How to cite

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Growing up on the streets: influencing global and local policy and practice with and for street children/youth. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>