Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Street Child's Perspective: A Grounded Theory Study of How Street Children Experience and Cope with Grief

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Street Child's Perspective: A Grounded Theory Study of How Street Children Experience and Cope with Grief

Article excerpt

The research project entitled--"A Street Child's Perspective: A Grounded Theory Study of How Street Child Experience and Cope with Grief," seeks to understand and explain how street children experience and cope with grief. Grief is multi-faceted and highly subjective. However, most street children, sharing the same contexts and backgrounds show some commonality in their experiences and coping styles. The paper attempts to understand grief as it is subjectively experienced by street children. The research employed qualitative techniques--In-Depth Interviewing, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and field notes. The researcher contacted an NGO and through them, gained access to street shelters. The sample comprised of 18 street children - 9 boys; 9 girls, selected through purposive and snowball sampling. After the data was collected using the aforementioned methods, Constructivist Grounded Theory was subsequently used to analyze the data. The results emphasize how similar backgrounds--familial, educational, religious--and shared experiences have influenced expressions of grief and coping styles. Most street children come from broken families and are migrants; they lack enhanced level of literacy; and religion defines their existence--all these factors coalesce to shape their perspective on grief. Street children experience grief collectively, rather than as separate individuals. Their coping styles reflect underlying common patterns that help them connect with one another and experience grief together. Keywords: Grief, Loss, Street Children, Social Environment, Grounded Theory Methods, Semi-Structured Interviews, Focus-Group Discussions, Purposive Sampling, Snowball Sampling

Every individual, at one point in time, will face a situation, which can cause grief. For example, consider the case of the death of one's loved one, an event which can cause a great deal of emotional distress and at the same time, highlights the universal existence of grief. Grief is both universal, in a sense that it is experienced by people in different cultures and contexts, but it is also personal, because every individual has a specific way of responding to this universal emotion. Although the socio-cultural and historical milieu may lead to differences in one's experience as well as one's use of coping strategies to deal with grief, these differences also tend to emulate the universal experience of grief to an extent.

This research focuses on how a particular segment of society copes with grief - specifically how street children experience and cope with grief. Street children lead very different lives from children belonging to more economically and socially advantaged positions in society. There has been little research regarding the psychological state of street children and it is a particularly significant aspect if we were to help eradicate the problem of "homelessness" and to ensure the successful development of one's nation. Apart from ensuring adequate physical security and well-being, the psychological aspects of well-being must also be taken into account, so as to enable the creation of an overall healthy population.

The context in which I have studied street children is specific to India; however, the existence of street children is a global phenomenon and one that all nations have been grappling with. My research focuses on a distinct facet of a street child's psychological health - grief. The way in which street children experience grief and the coping strategies that they employ to deal with it are important in helping us to gain insight into their lives, which again is useful in the creation of strategies, plans and policies to help uplift them. Culture plays a critical role by shaping their response to grief and also by determining the availability and access to specific coping strategies. Thus, Indian street children, in the Indian context, would have specific ways of experiencing and coping with grief, however, their experiences could also fit within a global paradigm and offer insights of importance. …

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