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Life 3 - Cheated of Childhood

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.

'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


Main credits

Richards, Jenny (editor of moving image work)
Marlow, Emily (film director)
Suponina, Marina (translator)
Noor, Samata (translator)
Malde, Smita (editor of moving image work)
Heath, Michael (narrator)

Other credits

Series editor, Jenny Richards; translators, Marina Suponina, Samata Noor; editor, Smita Malde.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

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


International Labor Organization, Russia, street children, St. Petersburg, end of communism, Vladimir Putin, ILO; "Cheated of Childhood"; Bullfrog Films