oa Journal of Psychology in Africa - Street children, in Nairobi, Kenya: gender differences and mental health

Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1433-0237



The commonly used term ""street 'child"" glosses over the differences between the genders. Ethnographic information and psychological case studies (consisting of a structured interview and standard psychological tests) of 51 male and 26 female street children, and 15 of their siblings who were not street children were collected in Nairobi, Kenya. The first hypothesis, that the mental health of male street children would be better than the mental health of female street children was confirmed. The second hypothesis, that the male siblings who stayed at-home, would have poorer mental health than their brothers who were on the streets, was also confirmed. Finally, the third hypothesis that the female siblings who stayed at home would have poorer mental health than their siblings who went into the street was also confirmed (albeit with less statistical significance). The above hypotheses were based on the idea that poor male children were in part reared to adopt street life, whereas poor female street children were reared to stay home. Ethnographic data is also used to explain the results. Mitigating methodological consideration are discussed.

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