Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Survey counts homeless youth

Survey counts homeless youth

Homeless adolescents seen on the grounds of the notorious Prey Speu detention centre after being rounded up by authorities.
Homeless adolescents seen on the grounds of the notorious Prey Speu detention centre after being rounded up by authorities. Hong Menea

Survey counts homeless youth

Cambodia’s seven largest urban centres are home to nearly 2,700 homeless adolescents who face numerous health and education-related obstacles, according to a new study by the Cambodian National Institute of Statistics, Columbia University and Friends International.

The study is the first in Cambodia to use two simultaneous head counts, a research method known as capture-recapture, which is thought to produce more accurate estimates of homeless populations.

“Findings suggest the number of homeless adolescents in Cambodia is much greater than one would expect if relying on single count data alone and that this population faces many hardships,” the study’s authors concluded.

Young people were included in the study if they were between the ages of 13 and 17 and lived on the street, in emergency shelters or in public places, including the many construction sites erected in the Kingdom’s cities. Some were also included if their dwellings provided inadequate protection from the elements, such as a building with two or more walls made from plastic tarps.

Of the homeless adolescents counted, about 64 percent were male. Almost all of the respondents said they had at least one parent alive, and around 84 percent claimed their parents are their primary caregivers. Half of the respondents said they attend school every day, but only a third were able to read simple sentences.

According to the study’s authors, people who face homelessness in their youth are likely to experience “toxic stress” that will impede their physical, intellectual and emotional development throughout adulthood. That’s why holistic and sustainable solutions must be employed to address the numerous obstacles homeless youth face, said Friends International’s James Sutherland.

“You must … provide pathways to a sustainable future away from the streets, through education and training for employment, reintegration with family if possible, or support for independent living,” Sutherland wrote in an email.

Friends International is collaborating with the Ministry of Social Affairs and about 40 other non-profits to launch initiatives that aim to break the cycle of poverty, he added.

But some suggest the problem is getting worse. According to Vanny Em of Choice Cambodia, a non-profit that works with homeless populations, people are being driven out of their homes by the rising price of real estate.

“They are leaving their homes because they can’t afford them, so they set up huts on state-owned land,” Em said. “Homelessness is definitely getting worse.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US imposes sanctions on Oknha Pheap and Kun Kim

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed strong dismay on Monday over the designation of Cambodian tycoon Oknha Try Pheap and General Kun Kim under the US’ Global Magnitsky Act. “It is very disturbing when the public figures of a country become the

  • Mother, daughter killed in hotel fire

    The bodies of a mother and daughter were found locked in an embrace after they were killed in a hotel fire in Phnom Penh at around 3:30am on Wednesday at the Phkar Chhouk Tep 2 Hotel and Restaurant in Phsar Doeum Kor commune, in the capital’

  • EBA withdrawal a destruction of EU achievements, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the EU’s possible suspension of its Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement amounted to a destruction of its achievements in the Kingdom and the demise of the opposition group. Hun Sen made the remarks while addressing more than 6,700 students during

  • Rights Day forum denied in Sihanoukville

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration last Saturday denied the request of land communities for a public location in the province to celebrate International Human Rights Day 2019 as the administration had already held forums to discuss land issues. However, the land community representatives said they would

  • Kingdom calls on Japan to increase number of direct flights to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh

    Cambodia is requesting Japan to increase the number of direct flights from Japanese cities and provinces to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, so as to contribute to increasing cooperation and tourist numbers between the two countries. During the opening ceremony of 3rd Japan Travel Fair

  • Sri Lanka’s LOLC Holdings plans to sell Cambodian unit

    LOLC Holdings Plc, Sri Lanka’s second-largest publicly traded company by revenue, plans to sell its 70 per cent stake in Prasac Microfinance Institution Ltd, which also counts Hong Kong’s Bank of East Asia Ltd. as a shareholder, LOLC deputy chairman Ishara Nanayakkara said. Nanayakkara