Child Begging in Bangkok

Since the Thai government has outlawed child begging, there have been fewer children out on the streets of Bangkok. They are still there, however. Most are probably controlled by the same gangs that control the other beggers. They are trained to cover their faces if they see a camera.

Nearly all the child beggars I have seen appear to be Khymer, which agrees with most of the available information. Others may come from Myanmar (Burma). These children are either "rented" from their families in Cambodia or in some cases perhaps kidnapped for this purpose. They range in age from about three months to ten years, after which they are not as appealing to passers by.

A recent UNICEF report claims that many child beggars in Thailand may be brought in by a family member to earn money that is sent back home. Even in these cases those working with the children on the streets agree that the dangers faced by these children, as well as the lack of any opportunity for education and normal growth outweighs whatever gain is made by their family. The girl children especially are vulnerable to the sex industry.

Whatever you do, please do not give them money. If they are independents, the amount going to their family is not enough to balance the dangers faced by the child. If they belong to the gangs, any money will go to the gang. In that case it is true that you always get what you pay for. Pay for child beggers, and their employers will find more of them and get them out on the streets.

Where does Opportunity Foundation fit into this? If the police or other agencies pick up a child and no family can be found to return her to, or that family is likely to resell her back into the same business then the child is not returned. In that case we may be asked to take the child.





  This child was not avoiding the camera. He never changed from this position.