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ERSTA SKÖNDAL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE
The Department of Social Work – Sköndalsinstitutet
Bachelor Degree in Social Work – 160 credits
Sköndal - Stockholm

WHEN A CHILD LEAVES HOME FOR THE STREETS
– from the family’s perspective

Anna Jenemark
Minor Thesis in Social Work, 10 credits
T6Ä, 2006
Instructor: Johan Kejerfors
Contact person: Elisabeth Håmsø
Examiner: Bengt Börjeson

ABSTRACT
There are many theories to why street children leave their families to live on the street, but most research made includes only the street child and parents, not including the rest of the family. The purpose of this thesis was to describe what the street child’s family look like, how individual family members explained and handled the situation of having a son, brother or cousin living on the street and which coping strategies the family members have developed in this situation. The study was conducted in two poor areas in Fortaleza, Brazil, called Bom Jardim and Granja Portugal. To answer the research questions the coping theory has been used as theoretical framework.

A semi structured interview guide was used when interviewing the six family members from three different families and also two social workers. All interviews were taped. The results of the interviews are presented following the research questions. The results show that most of the street boy’s caregivers are unemployed and illiterate, but according to the family members poverty was not the reason why the boy left home. An incident that had an impact on all families was moving to the city from the rural countryside. For all families this lead to the boy going to the street. The most common coping resource for all family members was their family and to have good health.

Keywords: street children, coping strategies, family background

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Acknowledgements
Firstly I would like to thank my instructor Johan Kejerfors, Lecturer and Researcher at the department of social work at Stockholm University, for encouraging and believing in me during the process of conducting this thesis.

I would also like to thank my contact person in Brazil, Elisabeth Håmsø, who helped me with all the contacts, interviews and transcribing in Brazil.
I want to show my appreciation to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) who made it possible for me to conduct this study financially. Finally, I would like to thank all the people at My Father’s House (Casa de Meu Pai) who helped me during my time in Brazil.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT..................................................... 2 Acknowledgements............................................. 3 TABLE OF CONTENTS............................................ 4 1 INTRODUCTION............................................... 7 1.1 Purpose and research questions........................... 7 1.2 Disposition.............................................. 8 2 ABOUT STREET CHILDREN...................................... 9 2.1 Who are the street children?............................. 9 2.2 Definitions of street children.......................... 10 2.2.1 Using the definition in reality....................... 10 2.2.2 A new definition...................................... 11 2.3 Numbers of street children.............................. 12 2.4 Reasons for leaving home................................ 13 2.4.1 Pushing factors....................................... 13 2.4.2 Pulling factors....................................... 14 2.5 Characteristics of a family of a street child........... 14 2.6 Siblings................................................ 15 3 THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK OF THE STUDY.................... 3.1 Coping strategies – a theoretical review................ 3.2 A model for understanding the coping process............ 3.3 A specific theory for children’s coping................. 3.4 Coping strategies amongst children and adolescents...... 3.5 Adult coping............................................ 3.6...
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