An estimated 1,500-3,000 children live on the streets of Romania (UNICEF, 2006; MPHASIS, 2008). Without the basic necessities to survive, a healthy family structure, proper identification, and an education, these children are at a high risk for sexual exploitation. This study examines what factors in the lives of street children contribute to their vulnerability to sexual exploitation and trafficking as well as the effectiveness of existent social services available to street children. Several characteristics in the lives of street children, including poverty and desperation for basic needs, broken family structures, drug use, lack of education, race, and lack of supervision and documentation all contribute to heightened vulnerability to sexual exploitation and abuse. The effects of sexual abuse and exploitation are extremely damaging both physically and emotionally, and limited human and financial resources are available in Romania to comprehensively address this issue and rehabilitate the victims. This study was conducted through interviews and focus groups with experts working at organizations serving street children and trafficking victims as well as with officials working in the national anti-human trafficking department in Bucharest, Timisoara, and Arad.
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