Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beggars with Children: Shame on You

Image credit: blog.asiantown.net

It is illegal to loiter for money in New York City subways.

In addition to going around asking for change, beggars now show up with their newborn babies. It's a kind of new fashion based on the supposition that, seeing the baby, subway riders will feel pity for the poor thing and give money. Reeking of urine and a mixture of foods the commuters consume on their way to work, school or home, a dusty crowded subway car is not an appropriate place for a newly born to spend his or her days. It is especially irritating when there are both parents begging. You would think one of them could take a baby to a park to breathe in some air or keep looking for a job instead of hanging around bothering people who probably don't have a lot themselves.

Yes, it has indeed been really hard to find a job in New York City during the past few years. The recession is not over, and there are lots of people who need help getting over it. Still, there's nothing that can justify using an innocent child who can't protest or complain as a money-making asset, no matter how desperate you are.

Yes, you might argue that a baby that small doesn't really care where to sleep and what to do, as long as it is fed. But how does one manage to feed a baby or change a diaper (or something that does the job of a diaper) while wandering the subway cars all day long? Besides, the temperatures are not always comfortable inside the cars and train stations. Cold wind is often blowing in your face as you're waiting for your train to come and get you to your destination, and in the summer 100 degrees is not a wonder, not mentioning that the air-conditioned cars are too cold for an average person's comfort temperature. What if the baby got sick, how would they afford the health care?

About a year ago there were no or little beggars with babies in New York City subways. The number is growing now, which tells us that it's working. If they weren't making money, they wouldn't do it all over again. Sadly, it's becoming more and more popular. We might be bringing up a new generation of beggars, introduced to the "spare some change" scenario before they could even speak or walk. It is horrible that New York City is home to the wealthiest people, who can afford going out to the fanciest restaurants, and to the poorest, who have no clue when - or if- the next meal is coming. Still, it is unfair to play on the commuters' pity for the baby when you have no pity for it yourself.

This situation is not unique to New York City. Take, for example, India. However, India is far away, and there's little you can do, but when you see a beggar with a baby in your city, you should feel no pity but contempt. Everywhere in the world people use helpless children for their own profit. If you give no money to those people, you will see that their number will decrease, which will tell you that it's not so much desperation but rather taking advantage of having such a fragile creature in their arms that makes the beggars approach you.

Give the babies the real change they need.


  1. Recently, (since Memorial Day, 2012), a number of young women, clearly, not U.S. citizens, each with an infant or young child in her lap, have been seen begging on the the streets of Manhattan. It seems to be some sort of "business." I wonder if they pay some nefarious commercial outfit to be brought in to NYC for the specific purpose of LUCRATIVE BEGGING on NYC streets.

    IT'S OUTRAGEOUS! Don't we have enough bonafide U.S. citizens who need help. Do we need to import beggars from other countries??? (Who, from what I suspect, acquire a windfall, then go back home.)

    While walking along Sixth Avenue for some 20 blocks, I encountered six of these women. They were almost identical in appearance -- each sitting on the ground cradling a young child. (One of them was very obviously pregnant!) From what I witnessed, each one was profiting extraordinarily by the appearance of the poor (tug-at-your-heartstrings) child.

    Am I the only one who has noticed this? Doesn't it irritate anyone else? I think this "brought in to the U.S. to beg," business should be investigated.

  2. I had never seen the use of a child while begging in NYC until very recently. Now I seem to see this scenerio ALL THE TIME and it really bothers me. While I was doing a work study in Cambodia this was extremely commonplace. I heard that the babies were actually RENTED OUT to beggars in order to score more money, but I figured that type of child exploitation would and could never happen here in the USA. Was I wrong? There is almost always a mother/child beggar at the subway station near my work so I get to see it everyday. Yesterday a mom was holding her infant son who looked identical to my own child and it broke my heart to have to see him passed out in the woman's arms probably exhausted from the heat (that subway station is seriously hot!) I broke down and gave her some money I just couldnt help myself. Thinking about it now brings me to tears. If this woman was really that desparate arent there programs for her and her child, whether it be govt or non-profits that help families in need? Am I naive in thinking this? I just dont understand begging with a child as to me this is one of the worst things to expose your child to.

    1. I don't have my own children yet, but I, too, agree that bringing a child to beg in the subways and in the streets is the worst thing you can do to him or her. You have to be either really desperate or really rough-hearted. Every time I see a beggar with a baby, it turns my gut upside down, especially if there are a father and a mother; that happens a lot.

      I wish everyone had enough and no one had to beg, and I keep wondering whether it is the economy that makes people lose their jobs and turn to begging, or it is our kindness that encourages those people.

  3. Hi, stumbled here after reading on this topic (beggars with babies). There is a good chance that the babies are not theirs. Also, some organized begging scams actually sedate or drug the children. I came across a post where someone was wondering why the children are always asleep. Turns out they aren't.....