Impact of social inclusion on tobacco use and wellbeing of street children: learning from field experiences in India
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Save the Children, Knowledge Management, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A903
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Background and challenges to implementation:
India has largest pool of street children in the world. Lack of proper parental care and adult supervision make them highly vulnerable for tobacco and drug abuse. Save the Children India in 2013 launched a five year long program aiming empowering such children through inclusive education to help them escaping vicious cycle of substance use, diseases, and poverty. This study highlights the important findings and experiences while implementation of this program.

Intervention or response:
Nine educational activity centers for street and working children (aged 5-14 years) were opened each in Delhi and Kolkata. Children were provided life skill training and taught minimum level of learning curriculum to ensure effective integration into formal schooling. Diff-in-diff method was used to measure the program performance.

Results and lessons learnt:
A total of 765 children were included in our analysis (476 in Delhi; 289 in Kolkatta). Tobacco consumption (57%), gambling (29%) and drugs (4%) were the self-reported habits at baseline enrolment. Bidi (47%), Gutkha (33%) and pan masala (20%) were the mainly consumed tobacco products. Use of smokeless tobacco was significantly different among Delhi (47%) and Kolkata (26%) children (p< 0.000). At the end of second year, majority of enrolled children (80%) experienced a positive change in their day to day life. Tobacco consumption (10%), gambling (3%) and drugs consumption (< 1%) reduced significantly compared to the baseline (p< 0.000). We learnt that meaningful social engagement of street children plays an important role in improving the overall health behavior and reduces the harmful practices such as tobacco use.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Mainstreaming of street children can help reduce the tobacco and drug use among street children. Government of India should allocate resources for providing inclusive education to street children and view street children as an asset in nation's building and growth.

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