AIDS orphan tourism: a threat to young children in residential care
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The dominant global perception that sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing an 'AIDS orphan crisis', coupled with growing trends in international voluntourism, has fostered a potentially high-risk situation for already vulnerable young children in the region. This article reviews the current discourse on what is being called a crisis of care for children, as well as literature on out-of-home/family care and its adverse impacts on child development. We also describe an emerging 'AIDS orphan tourism', and show how short-term attachments formed between children in group residential care and volunteers may worsen known impacts of institutional care. This article advocates against the exploitation of especially vulnerable young children in sub-Saharan Africa for commercial gain by tour operators in the current growth of 'AIDS orphan tourism'. We instead propose that young people who wish to volunteer their time and talents to assist children less fortunate than themselves be properly informed about children's development and attachments to others, as well of the vulnerabilities and rights of young children, especially those outside of family care.