n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Interpretations of well-being in youth headed households in rural South Africa : a grounded theory study

Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



The health and well-being of orphaned children is a major concern internationally. In South Africa, a significant proportion of the approximately 2 million orphans live in child/youth headed households where older children act as parents. Any meaningful response to this situation would require interpretations of well-being that are authentic, holistic and contextualized to be the basis of family and community care. Based on an ethnographic study involving two families of 16 orphaned children in a rural area of North West province in South Africa, interpretations of well-being are presented. Data about family life, beliefs, ideals, relations and interactions with formal and informal structures in the community was analysed by means of grounded theory methods. The purpose was to develop an original and contextualised representation of well-being of orphaned families. Findings from the analyses point to interpretations of well-being that take into account family composition, poverty conditions, and the need of orphaned families to stay hopeful. A strong preference for not wanting to be separated through foster care placements or allocation of a caregiver has been identified. Conditions for the attainment of well-being are also clarified in terms of access to support for basic needs, education, availability of social networks for support, and the possibilities for dependable and reliable relationships with other people.

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