This study unleashes the harsh realities of living and working on the street in Pretoria, South Africa. The study focuses on connections between street children, sexuality and HIV and AIDS. Understanding how street children live and how they obtain their information are major
contributors in trying to help solve this global crisis.
Therefore, the goal of the study is to explore street children’s knowledge of sexuality, HIV, and
AIDS in Pretoria, South Africa through using a qualitative research approach. The researcher’s
choice of using a qualitative research approach results in an in-depth personal investigation of a
sample of Pretoria’s street children’s. The researcher used snowball sampling and by asking
other street children where to find the participants. Through this sampling method, credibility of the researcher and confidence by the participants grew and allowed for the researcher to obtain the necessary information needed through a semi-structured one-to-one interview as the method data collection.
As defined in the text by the researcher street children are individuals under the age of 18 who
primarily cohabit on the street, survive on their surroundings, and may have no parents or
guardians. There are millions of street children globally who flee to the streets for a variety of
reasons. These motivations can include the need to raise money for themselves or family
members. The children could possibly encounter physical or emotional familial abuse or have no
family or support system to help them grow as individuals. There are many more concerns that
the children have which create the feel or ‘need’ for them to flee towards street life.
The findings derived from the interviews have been analyzed and categorized into themes and
sub themes, in association with questions asked in the semi-structured one-on-one interviews
using an interview schedule.
There were two themes identified through this study, theme 1 is sexuality followed by the 5 sub
themes in this category being: intimate and/or sexual relationships, support base, body image,
understanding key concepts and sexual behaviour. Theme 2 is HIV and AIDS and the sub themes
that correlate with this theme are general knowledge of HIV and AIDS, information distribution,transmission, prevention, the effect of HIV on street children and treatment.
Through interviewing fifteen street children these individuals opened up by talking about their
lives on the street, their sexuality, including sexual and non-sexual relationships, how they feel
about themselves as sexual beings and as children living on the street. In addition, what they
know about HIV and AIDS, their relationships with those who are infected, how it has
influenced their lives and what they know about this global epidemic. Knowing where these 12
to 17 year old participants receive their information can help for future programme development and distribution of information on sexuality and HIV and AIDS, to keep the streets safer from such unfortunate circumstances.
Some key findings in this study address the lack of knowledge street children have about
themselves as sexual beings and their lack of knowledge regarding HIV and AIDS. The children
hustle for money in many different manors including selling their bodies for money and standing on street corners begging. Although some of the participants are educated, their lack of support systems and scrutiny for the community they live in and possibly family members leaves little room for growth and development in society.
The recommendations are arranged to target the themes and sub themes. Some of the
recommendations include governmental and nongovernmental help with increased volunteerism,
information distribution, job creation, housing, shelters, education and support.
Many of the children have lost someone due to HIV or AIDS. Children living on the streets are
surrounded by AIDS daily and the matter of fact is, that if one talks about HIV they have to talk
about sex. This leads individuals to questions surrounding sexuality and their bodies. This study
helps to understand children’s views of these topics.
Copyright © 2011, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria
Please cite as follows:
Montanez, NA 2011, The knowledge of street children in Pretoria, South Africa, of sexuality and of HIV and AIDS, MSW dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-10302012-181058