Young Asian runaways do not approach social services and the
police while they are on the street because they do not understand
them, according to the latest research from the Children’s
Society, writes Anabel Unity Sale.
‘No-one’s asked us before’ found that Asian young people
are less likely to approach such support services compared with
other children because they feel these may not have the appropriate
knowledge and skills to meet their cultural needs.
It was based on interviews with 37 Asian girls and young women
who had runaway, some of whom went to Manchester. It found some of
the Asian runaways believed social services and the police assumed
they were trying to escape arranged marriages. These agencies
failed to take into account the Asian runaways mental health or
issues relating to sexual abuse or their sexuality.
The report follows the 1999 publication of research by the
Children’s Society that found Asian runaways are more at risk
of violence and sexual assault because they are twice as likely to
stay away from home for more than a week than other children.
Shamin Akhtar, report co-author and project worker at
Manchester-based Safe in the City, said: “Asian children may be
running away for longer and are at greater risk of coming into
danger on the streets, yet support services are not responding
effectively to this problem.”
The Children’s Society has said more skilled Asian
workers, who can understand and address the cultural needs of Asian
runaways, must be employed by the police and social services. The
agencies should also have more cultural awareness training.
‘No one’s asked us before’ from 0161 275 9083.
Still running: Children on the streets in the UK, 1999′ from www.childrenssociety.org.uk