Should I Give Money to a Begging Child When Traveling?

in Haveyoubeenhere3 months ago (edited)


Should I Give Money to a Begging Child When Traveling?

Traveling is a privilege that allows us to experience some of the most beautiful cultures in different places. While we marvel at the beauty around us, there is no denying that there is plenty of ugliness in the world too.

A trip to some of the third and developing countries usually opens our eyes and hearts to this vast divide. This contrast is even more apparent in the busy streets flooded with begging kids from the slums. Also, the quality of living in some remote tourist destinations is dire, and overlooking a begging child on the streets is hard. They tug a string in the heart, and it is uncomfortable to ignore.

We feel obligated to do our bit of charity and hand them money for a meal or offer some help. But you should never give money to a begging child when traveling. Did you know that by doing so, you could unintentionally cause them more harm than help? We'll tell you why.

Why you shouldn't give money to begging children while traveling

Increases a cycle of begging and poverty

Since children are easily influenced by what they see, a successful begging episode will surely encourage another to try the same. And if the child is begging productively, poverty-stricken and uneducated parents can take advantage of that. Instead of striving to get the child out of the cycle, he could be forced into this undignified trade.

Prevents_them_fro_ going_to_School.jpg

Prevents them from going to school

Now, if you see a begging child, know that other travelers feel the same sympathy to give them money. When kids are earning well by begging, parents don't find the need to send them to school. Your good intentions to help could add to their daily income, and you could be indirectly responsible for putting the child out of school.

Turns tourisms into a transaction

The worst thing a human can do to another is dehumanizing them into objects. When you see these kids begging in the streets, they turn into charity boxes while they see you as a walking dollar bill. It's harsh, but the obligation and the expectation takes away the real joy of goodwill giving and receiving. The whole process turns into an undignified transaction.

Providing drug money

Keep in mind that not all the begging kids you see are truly struggling with life. Some are just begging for a side-income, and while it is unimaginable, it is true that some of these kids are up to no good. They often pick up bad habits and anti-social addiction, duping others, or, worse, drugs. Handing the money directly without genuinely knowing their intentions and stories only makes it easier for them to access these drugs.


Imbalances Local Community

These kids often live in a community with other kids in poverty. Handing out money to a few only creates more divide within these communities because some receive more than the others. This could lead to bullying and discrimination, even in their little circle.

Encourages Begging Mafias

We've seen in movies like Slumdog Millionaire and read in books like "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" that begging Mafias do exist. The exploitation of children by kidnapping, maiming, and worsening their conditions to earn more sympathy is prevalent, and travelers should be aware of it. The exploiters are often lurking around, watching, and keeping track of them. Most of the time, these kids won't even receive half of what they earned while the mafias loot them.

They get trapped in this cycle, and by giving them easy money, you make it harder for them to run free.

Increases unforeseen dangers and harm

Begging children on the streets often put themselves at high risks from harm. While some entertain us for money, others go through great risks to earn their "spot." Some children cross the roads, and railway tracks unsupervised or even climb up or reach out to moving vehicles' windows. If risking their lives this way brings reward, they will continue to put themselves in risky situations.

How to help the begging children

Some kids genuinely deserve and need our help, and we can make a difference in their lives by doing so responsibly.

So if your heart ever feels compelled to give money to help these begging kids when traveling, here is what you can do to benefit them truly:

Engage with them

Most of these kids need someone to share their stories as much as education, food, and shelter. So instead of blindly handing out money, take time to interact. Ask about their parents, home, and why they are in this situation. If they are very young, make sure you talk to them according to their mental age to be more open and comfortable.

Of course, you cannot be gullible and believe every sob story that each one tells. But someone will surely need that engagement more than the money. A little interaction will teach you more about the right thing to do than to hand out cash.


Seek and give directly to organizations

This step takes a little more effort and dedication, but when you genuinely want to help a begging child, it's always worth the time. Seek organizations around the area that imparts long-term values for these kids like education, developing skills, and providing self-relying opportunities.

If you expect an encounter with begging children in the place you are traveling, do a little research, and seek reliable organizations ahead.

Ask what they need and not what you think they need. When you see these children, tell them about the place and where they can seek help. If not, invest in a meal instead of handing out the cash. Some of these kids might not want to be with these organizations, so you allow them to make a choice.

Preserve their humanity

Whether in interactions with them, handing out supplies, or taking photographs, do not forget that they are humans. No matter how young, they feel love, sadness, insults, and embarrassment like everyone else. So no matter how challenging, speak to them with respect and dignity to empathize. They might be resilient in their approach to gain sympathy for money, but they are more fragile psychologically.

Thank you for takign the time to read this article, I hope it helps you lookat traveling a bit different.

  • What are your thoughts on this topic?
  • How do you feel when asked for money?
  • How do you resond?


Thank you for keeping an open mind.
Much love

  • jacuzzi

Other articles in this collection:

Should I Give Money to a Begging Child When Traveling?
Travel Choices for Social Activism




Travel Photos:@RoamingSparrow



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I just found this in the new section, glad I looked.

We've traveled quite a bit as well. Unfortunate fact—by giving to the children or any locals while abroad, the target on your back is magnified by the entire community.

@dandays this is true, one act of kindness can open you up for more trouble though the road... I tend to just help people privately as that seems to be the best course of action... But who knows right? I wish there was an easy answer for everything.

It's depressing, for sure. I always help people as I can but depending where you are, it could cause you more harm than good.

This article deserves to be seen by many so I'm giving it a reblog. I loved how you relayed what you see and what's your perspective regarding this matter. If I was asked the first time and haven't read this, I may have handed food instead of money. However, I wouldn't know what to do if the number of begging children is more than one or two.

True that organizations can help, but you have to be vigilant as well as not to fall into some pretentious organization. Sometimes, it's harder to trust adults than kids. But we can't abolish the fact that some are being used for selfish reasons.

I enjoyed reading your output today @jacuzzi! 😉

@imawreader : Thank you for the kind words.

It's true... who can we trust these days? What organizations are good and fighting the good fight, and what ones are just taking advantage... more so if you are traveling and in a small town and you really just want to help... I fear, there is no good answer to any of this without taking a lot of time to discover the truth, and most times, as a traveler you don't have the luxury of time.

For myself, I like to believe in people, I like to believe that at least 75% of the people in the world are good. So, if this was a Casino, I would bet that the majority of people I meet, are good-hearted (or at least the majority of the time). So if I was in a small town and had a few days, felt completed to help, I would ask a few locals, get an idea of what's going on, then trust that the group in town is fighting to do good.

Thank you for your open mind and nice comment.

You're right about that. I'll take that advice and keep it in mind. Once I get to travel and get in the situation, I'll try to remember what you said. #wisdom

I traveled lots when I was young and learnt this the hard way. We kept having to give the Mexican police by Cabos San Lucas more and more USD everytime we went to get groceries.

Don't give money to ANYONE not even just a child, the police can be just as big of an issue.

At the point the wanted $50 we told them to fuck right off, but they just laughed at us and walked away knowing we would likely pay tomorrow.

@phusionphil That is a sad story indeed.
You do good one time, then people keep asking for more and more...

It's hard to keep in mind that reality for others, is not the same reality for us right. I feel blessed to have been raised in America, and in a lot of ways that is the standard I hold as normal, so when I see something that is not “Normal”, its makes me want to change it... but my normal, and their normal are different... they could be quite happy and living a good life and don't need me projecting onto then the reality of normal as I see it.

Thank you for sharing your story. :)

I found this video rather fascinating... I believe though you have to dress for success, though taking out loans just to buy clothing seems a bit access... But it's better than drugs, better than violence.

That's a well-written Tim. I can't agree with you anymore. Tourists should not give money to small children for many reasons.
Several popular tourist spots in Viet Nam- esp some provinces in northern highlands that children have been pushed to go out, sell things and beg for money. Many parents are taking advantage of tourists’ compassion for small children. and even forcing their kids to sell things in the cold weather, which is pitiful....!!
I think we can help the kids in more practical ways not by giving them money.
Thanks for sharing thí great article 😊

Thanks @trangbaby for the thoughtful response.
I've seen this as well in Vietnam... I want to help them and buy them food or give the money, so hard to see... Sometimes the best things you can do for people, is not do anything right?

@tipu curate 3

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