AceShowbiz - J.K. Rowling has called on students around the world not to volunteer at orphanages, after emerging evidence suggests “orphanage tourism” drives family separation and child trafficking.
The "Harry Potter" author and founder and president of children's charity Lumos told attendees at the One Young World summit in London - the global forum for young leaders - orphanages were given support by "volun-tourism," where young people from Western countries volunteered to help as part of their travelling experience, and "perpetuate the abuse" of children and communities.
"Despite the best of intentions, the sad truth is that visiting and volunteering in orphanages drives an industry that separates children from their families and puts them at risk of neglect and abuse," she said at the launch of the #HelpingNotHelping campaign, reported BBC Online. "Institutionalism is one of the worst things you can do to children in the world."
"It has huge effects on their normal development, it renders children vulnerable to abuse and trafficking, and it massively impacts their life chances. And these dire statistics apply even to what we would see as well-run orphanages… The effect on children is universally poor."
Rowling set up her charity in response to cases of neglect in Eastern European orphanages, which is campaigning to remove children from orphanages and return them to their families.
The "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" creator warned that children in orphanages in poorer countries often still had parents - but they had been separated by poverty rather than the death of their parents.
"Do not volunteer in orphanages. Instead, look at what drives children into institutions," she urged at the conference.