A study of indigent children in Durban between 1900 and 1945.
The study of the history of children has been marginalised over the centuries. Children are the lifeblood of any society and play a significant role in its development. It was only recently that the role of children was recognized. This study focuses on reasons for indigency in early twentieth century Durban. It establishes the various socio - economic factors responsible for this phenomenon. This led to the abuse of children's rights and the rise of child indigency. The incidence of child labour and vagrant children roaming the streets of Durban led to white philanthropists forming the Durban Child Welfare Society. Indigent children of colour were denied access to this welfare society. In 1927, two institutions were established to cater for indigent Indian children, The Aryan Benevolent Children's Home and The Durban Indian Child Welfare. The Great Depression saw a phenomenal increase in the number of indigent children in Durban. Municipal authorities were reluctant to confront the rising tide of indigent black children. After negative press coverage, the municipality established the Bantu Child Welfare Society in 1936. This was inadequate to cater for the burgeoning number of indigent children. Social activists later developed places of safety, such as the Brandon Bantu Home and the Motala Lads' Hostel to assist indigent African and Indian children The outbreak of World War Two and a relaxation of influx controlled to a diaspora of Africans to the city. The reversal of influx controlled to a series of socio-economic challenges for African children particularly. Unemployment, coupled with indigency, soared resulting in children loitering the streets of white suburbs in search of jobs and food. Complaints from recalcitrant white residents led to the arrest and detention of children between the ages of 6 and 16 at the notorious Overport Detention Barracks. Appalling conditions at these barracks led to a public outcry. Child care crusaders, ensured that appropriate action was taken to rectify the situation. This prompted a shift in government policy towards childcare for black indigent children in Durban.