Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

April 1994


Published in Child Development, 65 (1994), pp. 319–330. Published by Blackwell Publishing. Copyright © 1994 by the Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. Used by permission.


Social networks and daily activities of children and adolescents living and/or working on the streets of a large Brazilian city were examined. Drawing on data collected through structured surveys, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and field observations, we described street youths’ family situation, social resources, institutional experiences, survival activities, and problem behaviors and investigated differences attributable to age, gender, and living situation (at home or on the street). Youngsters who lived at home and worked on the street appeared to be experiencing orderly development despite their impoverished circumstances. Youngsters who lived on the street showed hallmarks of psychological and physical risk, including parental loss, diminished social support, substance abuse, and early onset of sexual activity. Possible implications of these contextual differences for development are discussed, and directions for future research suggested.