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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                           

Republic of El Salvador

The smallest country in Central America, El Salvador has the third largest economy, but growth has been modest in recent years.

In late 2006, the government and the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year, $461 million compact to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty in the country's northern region through investments in education, public services, enterprise development, and transportation infrastructure.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: ElSalvador

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in El Salvador.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


El Salvador: Where are the "disappeared" children ?

Amnesty International, Index Number: AMR 29/004/2003,  28 July 2003

[accessed 3 February 2011]

[accessed 29 November 2016]

Thousands of people disappeared in El Salvador during the armed conflict that shattered the country between 1980 and 1991. Hundreds, probably thousands, of them were children. Their families have been looking for them, as experience has shown that many are alive but unaware of their circumstances and identity. Government authorities are not helping.

At El Salvador Dump, Buzzard Soup on Menu

Luis Galdamez, Reuters, SAN SALVADOR, 22 April 1998

[accessed 10 May 2011]

Ever since she was six, Maria Aguilar has survived on garbage. ``I grew up in the dump,'' the 18-year-old Aguilar told Reuters, recalling that her mother brought her there one day in 1986. She picks through fetid waste to make a living in the dump, where many of those who work around her dine on buzzard soup when they can catch one of the scavengers.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 3 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children from poor families, as well as orphans, work as street vendors and general laborers in small businesses, primarily in the informal sector.  As of 2000, 72.8 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 8 February 2020]

CHILDREN - There were also reports of PNC abuse of street children. The government provided street children with food, shelter, and healthcare. There were 15 street children housed in ISNA shelters, but ISNA lacked adequate resources to provide assistance to all street children.

Child prostitution was a problem, and included the commercial sexual exploitation of minors for upper class clients. Children, especially those living on the streets, were trafficked to other countries, including for the purpose of sexual exploitation

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] The government did not devote adequate resources to enforce effectively child labor laws in the sugar plantations and other agricultural activities and in the large informal sector. Orphans and children from poor families frequently worked for survival as street vendors and general laborers in small businesses. The Ministry of Labor received few complaints of violations of child labor laws because many citizens perceived child labor as an essential component of family income rather than a human rights violation.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 30 June 2004

[accessed 3 February 2011]

[4] The Committee acknowledges that a series of events in the recent history of El Salvador still have an effect on the implementation of the Convention throughout the State party, in particular the two earthquakes which occurred in 2001 and caused widespread damage, leaving more than 1 million people homeless and destroying many schools. Moreover, it acknowledges that the process of national reconciliation, after 12 years of armed conflict (1980 1992), still poses difficulties.

Enfants du Monde Projects in Salvador

Enfants du Monde

[accessed 10 May 2011]

A country, with 47% of the population under age 17, El Salvador has far too many working children, especially street children, left without parental care. Moreover, in spite of certain reforms and of an increase in spending for teaching since 1994, there still remains much to do to increase access and increase the quality of education, which remains overall poor.

Child Rights

World Vision International, July 2003

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 19 September 2011]

[scroll down]

EL SALVADOR - Statistics of violence against children in El Salvador are alarming. In Salvadoran homes, 79 out of every 100 children are mistreated. This leads to high school drop out rates, which in turn leads to street children and disenfranchised youth joining one of the many maras (youth gangs).

Russell Comments On South American Street Children

[access information unavailable]

The reality is that the Panama Government themselves admit that the overwhelming number of crimes are committed by adults and the evidence in other countries shows that harsh sentences wont impact on youth crime. In El Salvador such laws have simply led to an increase in police abuse against street children

Shifting Views Of Children Who Work Or Live On The Street

Kathleen O'Toole, Stanford University News Release, 16 May 2000

[accessed 10 May 2011]

This 12-year-old Salvadoran boy, shown in April outside a house where he had gone to mourn an acquaintance who was raped and murdered, lives mostly on the streets of Quezaltepeque, where he begs or steals small amounts of money for food and glue to sniff. Like many other so-called street children in Latin America, he routinely sees physical abuse and violence among peers, family members and police.

The Present Reality of Street Kids

Ambassadors for Children

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[Last access date unavailable]

[scroll down]

CHILD EXPLOITATION - Children are the cheapest labor around. These homeless children live very near the central market in the city of San Salvador (the capital city of El Salvador), specifically in urban parks, such as Plaza del Trovador, San José and Hula Hula and on the Celis Street. The merchants abuse of the fact that these children are malnourished, are hungry and anxious to get their hands on more drugs, to exploit them.

The AMOR Project

[accessed 11 May 2011]

Living on the streets of the capital San Salvador are tens of thousands of destitute children who do not have the caring and comfortable homes that most people in the West enjoy. Some are abandoned by their families, some are neglected and abused at home by parents struggling to cope in conditions of appalling poverty. These children scrape a living by scavenging, begging and in some cases prostitution. They do not have access to basic health care and education, and are often hungry.

Aid for Children of El Salvador (ACES)

[accessed 11 May 2011]

[accessed 29 November 2016]

Tens of thousands of children in San Salvador are spending their days, and often nights, on the streets of the city. These children do not have the caring and comfortable homes that most children in the West enjoy.  Some are abandoned by their families, some neglected and abused at home by parents struggling to cope in conditions of appalling poverty. The children scrape a living by scavenging, begging and sometimes prostitution. They do not have access to basic health care and education, and are often hungry.

Children of the Street (COTS)

[Last access date unavailable]

COTS is a volunteer organization formed by professionals that work on a volunteer basis to deliver 100% of your donations straight into the hand that need the most, the children of El Salvador. We claim no salaries and have no overhead.

Deliberate Plan To Exterminate Street Children

Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, San Salvador, Aug. 14, 1996

[accessed 11 May 2011]

The Olof Palme human rights organization claims that there was a plan in El Salvador to exterminate street children by the sectors who consider the youngsters a criminal scourge littering the city streets.  The organization, which works to defend the street children, said the plan was being carried out by hired assassins and some public security officers.  Nine children have been killed in the last year. Many others have been beaten, raped or issued death threats.

Prostitution in El Salvador, San Salvador

Illegal Economy --- Source:,

[accessed 12 January 2015]

CHILD ABUSE - A 1997 study estimated that 1,000 children (up to age 16) were living on their own in the streets, 42 percent of whom were under the age of 5. Substance abuse (glue and paint sniffing) was an endemic problem among urban street children. In 1998 the Assembly passed a law regulating the sale of glue and other substances used as street drugs, prohibiting their sale to minors.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children – El Salvador",, [accessed <date>]