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Life III Series
Cheated of Childhood

The International Labor Organization tries to rescue and rehabilitate the street children of St. Petersburg.

A printer-friendly version of this page 23 minutes
Directed by Emily Marlow
Produced by Television Trust for the Environment
Series Editor: Jenny Richards

"Compelling because of its focus on children...and because of its attention to the lived experience of extreme poverty." Melissa L. Caldwell, Slavic Review
Once the glittering capital of Russia, the city of St. Petersburg and its magnificent metro stations have become home to a generation of street children who survive by begging, informal child labor or prostitution. The end of communism may have brought many positive economic changes in the lives of ordinary Russians, but it's also led to soaring rates of unemployment, alcoholism and family breakdown - driving children as young as seven to leave home to seek some kind of a living on the streets.

There are believed to be over a million homeless children in Russia, and in St. Petersburg alone, 16,000 children live on the streets. President Vladimir Putin has described the situation as the "most threatening of his country's economic and social indicators".

This installment of LIFE looks at the work of the International Labor Organization, whose efforts to rescue and rehabilitate these street children are a wholly new phenomenon.

With the support of the International Labor Organization; and the European Commission Directorate General for Development to promote better understanding of development issues.

The other titles in this series are:

1. The Road from Rio - Questions the relevance and success of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

2. Danger: Children at Work - Guatemalan agencies try to discourage child labor and fireworks production by poor families.

3. The Trade Trap - Ghanaian farmers struggle to get a foothold in the international market.

4. Kosovo: Rebuilding the Dream - Assesses the success of UN efforts in rebuilding Kosovo.

5. The Perfect Famine - Examines the causes of, and solutions to, severe famine conditions in Malawi.

6. It Takes a Village - A cyclone in Bangladesh results in the construction of an experimental community health center.

7. Seeing is Believing - Zambia begins a nationwide program to deliver Vitamin A to its population.

9. Patents and Patients - India battles HIV/AIDS using generic drugs.

10. The Doctor's Story - The US debate over abortion has severe consequences for health care in rural Nepal.

11. Sowing Seeds of Hunger - The AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa has crippled the agricultural community while forcing children to undertake the responsibilities of farming.

12. Up in Smoke - Dependence on tobacco crops and manipulation by the tobacco industry has stunted the economy of Malawi.

Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2003     Copyright Date: 2002
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-124-X     VHS ISBN: 1-59458-007-3

"A tragic vision of homeless kids begging, sniffing glue, and falling prey to pedophiles as global realities force St. Petersburg's social safety net to become more porous by the day."
Prof. Timothy McGettigan, PhD, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University-Pueblo

"Topically and visually, [Cheated of Childhood] is compelling because of its focus on children...and because of its attention to the lived experience of extreme poverty. The filmmakers balance the perspectives of social workers, physicians, and other officials with the perspectives of the children who narrate their own stories. This approach offers glimpses of the alternative family structures, living arrangements, and economic activities that children mobilize to support themselves and allows the children to voice their fears...At the same time, this comparative approach illuminates the messy gaps between how officials view the phenomenon of street children and the way these children view themselves and their needs."
Melissa L. Caldwell, Slavic Review

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At-risk Youth
Child Labor
Human Rights
International Studies
Labor and Work Issues
Russian/Slavic Studies
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United Nations

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