Railway Children will join charity JUCONI to host Breaking the Cycle, an international conference for anyone working to change the lives of street-connected children, on 17-18 November in Tanzania.

Breaking the Cycle logo - large

The aim of the conference is to provide a rare and important opportunity to share knowledge and expertise from across the world to help address the abuse of an increasing number of children forced to live and work on the streets. Research by Railway Children finds children whose early relationships are characterised by violence often end up in a negative cycle causing further poverty, exposure to danger and negative life outcomes.

By working together to host the Breaking the Cycle conference, Railway Children and JUCONI can help change the lives of street-connected children across Tanzania and, crucially, far beyond. Sharing vital information about new research and working methods from around the world increases the number of children who can be reached and who benefit from a greater understanding of the issues they face.

Over 25 renowned expert guests will speak and run workshops, giving those attending a new understanding of strategies proven to break the cycle of family violence. 

To find out more about the conference, please go to www.breakingcycle.org.


Violence and sexual abuse are everyday threats for children on the streets

A study carried our bt Railway Children found 100% of the children living on the streets in Mwanza, a region in Tanzania, had experience of physical and verbal abuse on the streets. Also, 100% of the girls and 25% of the boys had been sexually abused.

Street-connected children need therapeutic and family-based support

Pete Kent, East Africa Regional Director at Railway Children, said: “Children and families affected by violence are often isolated and are unlikely to ever benefit from mainstream programmes and instead need a more intensive therapeutic and family-based response.

“Sustainable livelihoods are also critical in lifting families out of poverty and preventing young people from being pushed back on to the streets. This is why we also provide families with training, mentoring and business support. Over the last three years, our DFID-funded project in Mwanza has helped to ensure that more than 80% of children that we take home actually stay there.  For them, we’ve been able to break the cycle.

“Despite these advances and the reduction our work has begun to see in young children sleeping on Mwanza’s streets the numbers overall remain alarmingly high, particularly for young girls forced in to commercial sex work at night. This is a huge concern, but the best way we can help is to get better at sharing solutions that put children first and are proven to break the cycle of family violence.”

Railway Children Africa’s services supporting children in Tanzania continue to benefit from UK support through the Department For International Development Aid Match programme, specifically for services in Mwanza.

Pete Kent said: “We also welcome the Tanzanian government’s efforts in creating support services and protection for the most vulnerable children. The country’s status as a pathfinder country in the Global Partnership to end Violence Against Children, shows the political will to truly change the situation for its vulnerable children.”

Our latest survey in Mwanza shows:

  • An estimated 1940 children live and / or work on the streets in Mwanza, an increase of 25% since last year.
  • In just 12 months, the number of female sex workers has increased by 229%, with those aged between 11-14 seeing the biggest increase.
  • 418 of the girls are female sex workers, 218 of these are aged under 18.
  • There has been a 40% reduction in full-time 0-14 year olds on the streets over 3 years - our main target population.