Browsing by Subject "street children"

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  • Nerg, Liisa (Helsingfors universitet, 2017)
    Street children is a broad topic that has been studied by various researchers often focusing on some more specific part, for example street life and activities in the street. In the previous years, the voices of the children themselves have been increasingly taken into account. In this study the focus is on the ways of helping the children and how to support them to get out of the street. The aim is to find the best practices to support the children and to see if the strategies of the centres meet the needs of the children. Therefore, it is important to study why the children have ended up in the street at the first place and what kind of survival strategies they have. Also the reasons for them to run away back to the street again are discussed. The study is an ethnographic case study. The methods used for data collection were interviews and participant observation. The field study was conducted in Lusaka, Zambia, in three different centres for street children. Some participant observation was done in the street too. For clarity’s sake the perceptions of the children and the strategies of the centres are analysed and discussed in different chapters. The findings show that there are various push factors for children ending up in the street, for example poverty and violence at home. Also not having anywhere to go to and the need to survive are pushing children to the street. Running away from the centres is linked to violence but also to freedom, addiction to drugs and alcohol as well as peer pressure. In the street the most usual activity is begging, which is considered as a mean of survival. Aside of begging, children do different kinds of piece works. Street life is hard and unsafe: there is violence, hunger, theft and addiction to glue and drugs. The friends in the street were seen as an important thing in order to survive. Among the children, the centres are generally considered as a good way to get out of the street, alongside education. However, the violence used in some centres is criticised and the child’s willingness to go to the centre is considered as important. Children who are willing to come to the centres can be found through street outreach. From the point of view of the centre staff children working and staying in the street is problematic because these children are deprived of their rights, for example right to education. Often the children do have parents or relatives but they are working in the street in order to support the families. The domestic work is considered as a normal thing whereas the work in the street is seen as abuse and exploitation. Sometimes the parents even send the children to the street to earn money. Work in the street often prevents the children from going to school but sometimes the work can help them to afford going to school. However, children working in the street are often taken advantage of. Both the street life and the work in the street has a lot of consequences for the child’s health and well-being, both physical and psychological. Despite the hardships in the street, there is also friends, belonging and freedom. A simple solution to tackle the street child phenomenon is to stop giving money to the children in the street and direct them to the facilities, where they can obtain education and life skills. The staff of the centres have a consensus of home being the best place for the child. The children’s perceptions are somewhat similar to the strategies of the centres when discussing the best ways to help the children. One simple solution is to stop giving the children money in the street. For the child to integrate to the society he/she needs a place he/she can consider as home, family or guardians, rehabilitation and education. Also the government’s intervention would be important in order to support the families to get help from the social welfare and to send the children to school. This study contributes to the discussion of street children, their lives in the street and how to help them, both from the point of views of the children and the staff of the centres.
  • Mahal, Kulsum (2003)
    This thesis is an ethnographic account of a group of street boys and girls living in the city of Dhaka. It attempts to explore the “process” dominated by the social and cultural values that construct and shape the lives of the children. Two major aspects of their lives are the focus of my discussion. First, I aim to examine the gender dimension of the street. The second focus is to analyze the discourse of traditional care (family) and alternatives to traditional (NGOs) care from the perspectives of the children. The ethnographic material of this study was gathered through participant observation field research for five months among a group of twenty children. In addition to un-structured, in-depth and life history interviews, going out with the children on the streets was a substantial constituent of the field research. To construct my own arguments, I have followed Fruzzetti’s notion on how the prevailing cultural values determine the gender roles in a society. This study is influenced by Ortner’s approach to the practice theory, and Jeffery and Jeffery’s notions on agency and practice. By regarding street children as subjects, and their actions as practices, I have attempted to examine how they are determined by structures. And how on the other hand, the structure is reconstructed and contested by the subjects and practices. The study therefore demonstrates how the children are positioned in society, and at what level they are able to negotiate their positions as by acting as social agents. The study shows how street girls are treated as “girls” rather than as “children”. The patriarchal values are manifested on the street and create contrasting identities for boys and girls. Street girls are defined according to the cultural construction of girlhood purity in Bangladeshi society. The study opposes the widespread popular trends of labeling street girls as prostitutes and rephrasing sexual exploitation as “survival sex”. Regarding care, street children have a different interpretation and agenda, which is far removed from the agenda of the NGOs and popular street children discourse. The thesis argues that the alternative institutions do not really produce ideologies alternative to the prevailing social values and beliefs. The apparent conflict and inconsistency in the care providing process is demonstrated. This thesis states and questions a steady trend of perceiving street children in different parts of the world as a “global tragedy”, and offering them care with a “global formula”, regardless of their social and cultural diversity.
  • Harju, Elina (Helsingfors universitet, 2013)
    Street children´s life situations have received a lot of attention both in the media and in research in the recent years. In the literature street children are often defined as being under the age of 18. In this thesis, the focus group is the street youth, meaning the adolescents and young adults who either live full-time in the streets or are otherwise strongly connected with the street life. The research interest was to study how poverty is present in the lives of the street youth, and how their experiences of poverty in the streets and their own agency change when they grow older. A further interest was to find out how street life enables transition into adult roles in the society. The theoretical background of the thesis consists of introducing the discussion of structure and agency in social sciences as a way to understand the social life, then introducing the relevant concepts of poverty and social exclusion. Poverty in this thesis is understood in its widest sense, as Amartya Sen has defined it: deprivations of basic capacities that a person has to live the kind of life he or she has a reason to value. Also, the contemporary research on street children is introduced, where the agency perspective has gained space. The thesis also takes a look at some situational factors of the case study country Zambia, which affect the lives of the country’s vulnerable children and youth. This thesis is an ethnographic research consisting of two field work periods in Zambia’s capital city Lusaka. These field work periods took place in July-August 2011 and 2012 in an organization working with street children and youth. The informants were a heterogeneous group of street youth, aged between 14 and 28 and connected to the street life from different positions. The data consists of field notes and 33 recorded interviews with the informants. The results show that most of the street youth expressed reluctance towards their current life in the streets with little prospects for change. Income-wise their poverty seemed to vary, but the money was spent to meet one’s instant needs. Poverty was further expressed in terms of experienced public disrespect and vulnerability to violence and abuse by other street youth as well as police authorities. It also meant remoteness and mistrust in one’s social relationships. Poverty in the streets caused dependency of substances leading to decreased ability to take care of oneself as well as violent behavior. Growing older in the streets seemed to bring increased feelings of wasted years and frustration in one’s life situation, which was in contrast to adult roles in the society. Prolonged street life brought a risk of adopting illegal means and violent and harmful conduct. However, this was not necessarily so, and some of the youth had taken distance to the street life abandoned many of their earlier street behaviors. As chances for employment were small, they were, however, still stuck in the streets to earn living.