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Street Children in South Africa

  • Date Submitted: 05/15/2011 05:06 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.9 
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During September 1993 an investigation was launched on the lifestyle, activities, experiences, and background of street children in Pretoria, South Africa. Qualitative rather than quantitative interviews were conducted to gather as much information as possible on the total life situation and subjective experiences of these children. This article focuses specifically on their background. The responses to each interview are discussed and compared with research done in the past on South African street children.

The average age of the respondents was between 13 and 14 years as shown in Figure 1.(Figure 1 omitted) Figures in Cape Town differ only slightly...in that the mean age of runaways is 12.9 years and the mean age of admission to The Homestead is 13.6 years (Cockburn, 1991). Richter (1991) found street children in South Africa to be between 7 and 18 years of age, with the majority between 13 and 16. Richter (1991) further found that the ages of street children in poor Third World countries (11 to 16 years) differ significantly from those in rich First World countries (older than 16 years). Linda Zingaro, a director of an agency in Vancouver, Canada, which serves the needs of street children in a First World country, confirms Richter's findings: "The kids that I predominantly deal with are between 15 and 16 and up to 24 or 25" (Zingaro, 1988, p. 9).
A quote from Schaefer (1989) depicts the life of a street child: "As a bitter highveld winter wind whips through the suburbs of Johnnesburg, ten-year-old Moses, huddled in the doorway of a shop in Hillbrow, pulls another piece of cardboard over his body and takes a sniff from his glue bottle, hoping it will block out the cold and bring him some sleep" (p. 19).

All the street children involved in the present investigation were of African origin and all were boys. According to Ross (1991, p. 70), the street child phenomenon in South Africa is merely the outcome of the political system of racial segregation that...

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