Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

April 2005


Published in Journal of Adolescence 28:2 (April 2005; Homeless and Runaway Youth), pp. 249–262; doi 10.1016/j.adolescence.2005.02.007. Copyright © 2005 The Association for Professionals in Services for Adolescents Published by Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Future expectations of youth surviving on the streets of Porto Alegre, Brasil, were examined. The sample consisted of 35 boys and 34 girls aged 10–18 (M age 14.4) who participated in a sentence completion task and semi-structured interviews. Responses to two incomplete sentences regarding the future revealed a mismatch between hoped-for and expected events. When completing the sentence, “In the future, I hope…” the majority of youth gave optimistic (but generally non-specific) responses. In contrast, the sentence “For me, the future…” elicited more pessimistic responses. Few gender or age-related differences emerged. Findings are discussed in light of prior research with general populations of adolescents as well as studies of street youth. Taken as a whole, results suggest that life on the street shapes and constrains how youth see their futures. Implications of the findings for policy makers and practitioners are addressed.