homeless children

Tbilisi, Georgia – A heartbreaking viral video by NowThis, highlighting the UNICEF #FightUnfair campaign – exposes how homeless children are treated worse than well-dressed kids – as part of a “social experiment” conducted in Tbilisi, Georgia.

According to the UNICEF website the campaign aims to give underprivileged children an opportunity:

“Every child has the right to a fair chance in life. But around the world, millions are being left behind – disadvantaged, endangered and deprived of everything they need to thrive. It doesn’t need to be this way. Investing in the poorest children not only improves their lives, but also their children’s lives – breaking the vicious cycle of poverty.”

And while the majority of people commenting on the video seemed appalled that the child was so explicitly rejected when made up to “look homeless,” there were others that pushed back against having such harsh judgment passed upon those that were rude or suspicious of the child.

One person claiming to be a native Georgian, where the experiment was conducted, noted in the comments that many of the negative responses you see are likely due to the fact that Georgians have become desensitized to the plight of these children. They see them as instruments of corrupt adults simply using the children to fleece those who are kind and unsuspecting enough to render assistance.

The harsh reality is that in many countries, homeless kids who are forced to go begging by adult overseers, sometimes parents, and whatever they’re given is taken away by the adults who “own” the children. This, in turn, creates a sense within individuals in that society of a perceived direct threat simply from associating with these homeless kids.

It’s the criminal adults directing the majority of these kids who have created this stereotype that should be blamed for these people’s crude actions — and not the people on the street that are simply attempting avoid becoming victimized.

It should be noted that pointing these facts out is not advocating for the discrimination against homeless children. This is called a social experiment for a reason: it shows how the majority of a particular society behaves under a certain circumstance. And the fact that the outcome shows discrimination towards homeless kids is extremely troubling.

It is highly likely that one would find substantially different responses depending upon what country the experiment was conducted. Not all countries suffer from the same level of predatory behavior utilizing homeless children in an attempt to fleece unsuspecting and caring strangers.

While the video is very difficult to watch, it is important not to simply condemn those who acted the way they did. We should look at this video’s message from a broader perspective, and together discuss how to change the stereotype about homeless people and homeless children with a more all-encompassing approach.

Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay's writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media - and has been viewed tens of millions of times. You can follow him on Twitter @SirMetropolis and on Facebook at SirMetropolis.