The impact of family structure and its dynamics on street children phenomenon in the North West province of South Africa
Mohapanele, Karabo Gloria
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A family as a societal social institution plays a fundamental role in influencing children’s behavior, and it is a crucial factor in determining children’s lives. A dysfunctional family is one of the factors for the street children phenomenon. This study aims to examine the impact of family structure and its dynamics on the street children phenomenon in the North-West province of South Africa. Structural functionalist theory has been used as an umbrella theory for Symbolic Interactionist theory and Gender reform feminisms, and Attachment theory has been used independently. A qualitative research paradigm has been used for the study with non-probability purposive sampling. Data was collected from street children beneficiaries of the two drop-in centres called Kgakala and Letsema centres in the North West Province of South Africa. Fifteen (15) Children as well as their fifteen (15) parents were interviewed, which makes a total of thirty (30) participants. As revealed by its findings, this study argues that poverty is not the sole or main cause for children to go to the street. There are other intervening variables in the family structures that also act as contributory factors in producing street children, this includes amongst others: parentings styles, child discipline and mistreatments. This study discerns four types of family structures of street children: single parent family, nuclear family, step family and extended family. Children from these four types of family structures provided various reasons that lead them to the street. The study also found some connection between the demographic characteristics (e.g. gender) of children’s parents and the reasons for their children to be on the street in relation to their family structure. Amongst other recommendations, this study suggests that there should be micro-finance and other support to the parents, as this will assist in preventing the migration of children to the streets, powerful familial bonds should also be built to maintain a nurturing family environment, finally, further research should be conducted to identify different community-based solutions to deal with the problems of street children.
- Humanities