Gender differences in Brazilian street youth's family circumstances and experiences on the street

Journal article


Research Areas

Publication Details

Author list: Koller S
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2000
Volume number: 24
Issue number: 11
Start page: 1431
End page: 1441
Number of pages: 11
ISSN: 0145-2134
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Objectives: It has been proposed that homeless street girls are more
likely to be from dysfunctional families and exhibit psychological
distress than homeless street boys, reflecting cultural factors that
result in differential norms for male and female behavior. The current
analysis examined whether male and female street youth in a mid-sized
Brazilian city differed in their family circumstances and day-to-day
functioning on the street. Methods: The opportunity sample consisted of
33 male (mean age 14.3, range 10-17 years) and 33 female (mean age 14.6,
range 11-18 years) street youth who participated in a sentence
completion task and structured interview examining family experiences
and ability to meet daily needs on the street. Results: Consistent with
the cultural hypothesis, girls described more negative family
backgrounds than boys (e.g., they were more likely to have left home
because of conflict or abuse, and reported more negative relationships
with their parents). However, girls' functioning on the street was
similar to, and in some cases more positive than, that of boys (e.g.,
fewer girls reported police violence and begging to earn money).
Conclusions: The few gender differences that emerged in this study offer
little support for the cultural hypothesis. The findings make sense if
local factors, such as services available for male and female youth and
public response to street youth, are considered. It appears that street
youth differ in their experiences depending on local circumstances,
highlighting the need for caution in generalizing about the situation of
street youth in different countries. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier
Science Inc.


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