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Street children and their helpers: An actor-oriented approach


  • Turnbull, Bernardo
  • Hernández, Raquel
  • Reyes, Miguel


This article analyses the interaction between street children and youth and the people who try to help them. We seek to understand our outsiders' role in the children and youth's career on the streets and to provide ideas for programs and interventions. A group of volunteers in a Mexico City bus station gathered data in field diaries as observations and interviews with street children, youths and helpers, and analyzed them using the Grounded Theory method over a period of 4Â years. This retrospective uses the core concept of Social Interface, which is a point of encounter between two social systems, to understand the relationship between the children and their many helpers. The data revealed that the children use the programs and services in their own way and the helpers try to make them "use it right" by modifying the programs. Thus, each side protects its own view of the situation from the other and this struggle contributes to keep the children and youths on the streets. Attentive self-awareness is necessary on the part of those who own the programs and services, so that the children's view can be included in the planning, implementing and running of these programs.

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  • Turnbull, Bernardo & Hernández, Raquel & Reyes, Miguel, 2009. "Street children and their helpers: An actor-oriented approach," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(12), pages 1283-1288, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:31:y:2009:i:12:p:1283-1288

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Swart-Kruger, Jill & Richter, Linda M., 1997. "AIDS-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviour among South African street youth: Reflections on power, sexuality and the autonomous self," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 45(6), pages 957-966, September.
    2. Chambers, Robert, 1994. "Participatory rural appraisal (PRA): Challenges, potentials and paradigm," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 1437-1454, October.
    3. Peralta, Felipe, 1992. "Children of the streets of Mexico," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(3-4), pages 347-362.
    4. Martijn, Claudine & Sharpe, Louise, 2006. "Pathways to youth homelessness," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 1-12, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Berckmans, Isabel & Velasco, Marcela Losantos & Tapia, Bismarck Pinto & Loots, Gerrit, 2012. "A systematic review: A quest for effective interventions for children and adolescents in street situation," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1259-1272.
    2. Velasco, Marcela Losantos & Berckmans, Isabel & O'Driscoll, Julia Villanueva & Loots, Gerrit, 2014. "A visual narrative research on photographs taken by children living on the street in the city of La Paz – Bolivia," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 136-146.


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