Research with Children in Street Situations

  • Lewis Aptekar
  • Daniel Stoecklin
Chapter

Abstract

Research for street children and homeless begins accurate numbers. Once the objects of the study are clear we need to establish a valid procedure for choosing a random sample. One model is based on what is used for peripatetic groups. This begins with a clear definition of households, mapping high and low concentrations and taking a random sample of the map sectors. Potential problems include time of day the data is collected, who the data collector is, the difficulty of using standardized tests, and the importance of translation and back translation.

Another model, the Sao Paolo Count, begins with compiling a list of places where street children congregate. Then dividing the city into sectors where the subjects are found and organizing walking routes so they are all counted. Potential problems include double counting and that only a limited amount of variables, like gender and age, can be counted.

The count-recount method is based on sampling wild animals that were tagged, released and recaptured in two or more random samples. Lists of subjects from several different sources are scanned for repeating names. Multiple data collectors walk the streets that are identified as having populations. They asked the children to give their names, and other demographic information. They repeat the process. The results depend on the honesty of the responses.

Validity is research on children in street situations is problematic. The population have developed good skills in saying what they think wants to be heard. They lie about their ages, family back grounds, and reasons for being on the street, etc. Know that these children are likely to be experience subjects. It is helpful to multiple data collectors with different demographic characteristics (gender, age, expatriate vs. local, etc).

Expatriate researchers of street children should be accustomed to the host country, and work with host country researchers. They should know the basic values and belief systems of children in street situations, and proportionately sample sub groups, and compare data to show if children in street situations are worse or better off than their counterparts. Know that these children are likely to be experience subjects.

The best methods for research with children in street situations includes projective techniques such as open-ended sentence completions, human drawings, drawings of mental maps, photographic diaries, and performance related information. The mental status exam is introduced as guided observational tool. It is important to triangulate methods, avoid questionnaires or other paper and pencil tests that ask direct questions.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child asks researchers to involve, inform, and consult with children in any area of research. In participatory Action Research (PAR) children take over many research functions previously used only by adults.

A lack of longitudinal studies makes it difficult to know how they function as adults. There are research problems associated with the researcher collection and understanding of the data. Data should be put into the context of local culture and history. There are also ethical considerations, including the question of giving money.

Keywords

Data Collector Participatory Action Research Homeless Youth Projective Technique Street Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lewis Aptekar
    • 1
  • Daniel Stoecklin
    • 2
  1. 1.San Jose State UniversitySan JoseUSA
  2. 2.University Institute Kurt Bösch (IUKB)SionSwitzerland

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