Much of prevailing research on street children pertains to their experiences at home prior to their abode on the streets, as well as their ordeal on the streets once they have departed from their homes. Only a few studies highlight their experiences in rehabilitation centres. Hence no study was undertaken to explore factors that contribute to their departure from rehabilitation centres and return to the streets. The aim of the study was to determine why do some of the street children who were formerly placed in the rehabilitation centres return to the streets. Thus the objectives of the study were to (a) determine the norms and values that are applicable in the centres and (b) determine whether their tendency of returning to the streets results from their negative perception of certain factors in the centres, as well as their desire to resume the life that they adopted on the street prior to their placement in the centres. The sample comprised of sixteen street children who have previously resided in the centres. Focus group interviews were adopted as data collection techniques, and the children were subjected to four focus group interviews. A semi-structured interview was also conducted to one of the caregivers in the centre. A Grounded Theory Approach, which is an integration of the methods proposed by Strauss and Corbin (1990), Glaser (1992), Creswell (1998) and Strauss and Corbin (1998), was utilised for the analysis of the interviews. The findings evinced that the children's departure from the centres and return to the streets culminated from their familiarity with street life, desire to return home, discontentment with some of the living conditions in the centres, ill-treatment by the police and older boys, as well as their desire to resume street life, that is, to partake in income-generation activities and to be reunited with other children who reside on the streets. Much of their interaction with the caregivers also contributed to their retreat from the centres. The caregivers subjected them to discrimination, ill-treatment, false accusations, humiliation, restriction and threatened to transfer them to another centre. In addition to the above- mentioned factors, there were unanticipated findings that also emerged during the study. The findings were clustered as follows: factors that influenced the children to leave the centre and return home, factors that influenced the children to leave their homes and reside on the streets, factors that influenced the children to leave the streets and reside in the centre and factors that influenced the children to leave their homes and return to the streets. Therefore, the children's negative perception of the conditions that they were subjected to in the centres contributed to their return to the streets, as they related well with other street children and were able to earn an income on the streets.
Dissertation (MA (Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2006.