Resilient street youth: a qualitative South African study
Theron, Linda Carol
Malindi, Macalane Junel
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Only quite recently have researchers begun to conceptualize street youth as resilient. The findings from our qualitative phenomenological study with 20 adolescent street youth in South Africa augment this transformed conceptualization. Using individual and focus-group interview data, we offer a novel argument that street youth resilience is embedded in a socio-cultural context characterized by stories of adults who have beaten the odds, lived experiences of adults mediating access to protective resources along with youth acceptance of such aid, and cultural pride. This process is co-authored by stoical, reflexive street youth who actively navigate toward and negotiate for resilience-promoting resources. These findings militate for policy and interventions that are asset-based and context-sensitive and that script street youth as active participants in intervention processes. The participants in this study all had access to community resources – this implies that the findings must be interpreted with some caution and urges further research exploring the process of resilience among street youth who are not service-users.