The psychological well-being and social support of street children in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
Netshiombo, Mashudu Tshifaro.
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Introduction: Globally, street children are known to have poor psychological health and engage in risky behaviours as a result of the environment in which they find themselves. The current study was conducted to examine the psychological well-being of street children in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The main objectives of the study were to examine the prevalence of psychological problems and to examine the associations between health risk behaviours and psychological functioning. Method: The sample used in this study consisted of 149 street children (128 boys and 21 girls) recruited purposively and responded to an interviewer administered questionnaire which measured varied constructs related to psychological health. The Strength and Difficulty Questionnaire was used to assess the psychological functioning of the street children. The Multidimensional Scale Perceived Social Support was used to assess their perceived social support. Pearson product-moment correlation and binary logistic regression models were fitted in the analysis of the data. Results: This study revealed that among the participants, 99.3% reported using substances with over 84.2% reporting suicidal ideation. Substance use include alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana and used by 74.3%, 43.6 % and 50% respectively. The majority of the participants (85.4%) were sexually active with 52.1% reporting non-condom use. Over 92.5% reported being victims of violence, with about 84.4 % being perpetrators of violence whilst within the domains of the streets. Suicide ideation was found to be associated with conduct problems and being victims of violent behaviour, whilst perpetrating of violent behaviours was positively associated with conduct problems. Prosocial behaviours was positively related to both emotional problems and suicide ideation but negatively associated with conduct problems, hyperactivity and engagement in violent acts against others. A significant relationship was found between substance use and risky sexual behaviours among the participants. Furthermore, a significant relationship was reported between non-condom use in the last sexual activity and the use of marijuana and between non-condom use in the last sexual activity and the use of other drugs such as glue. Participants who consumed alcohol were three times more likely to have ever engaged in sexual activities whilst under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, street children who used marijuana were four times more likely not to use condoms in their sexual engagements. Furthermore, street children who used marijuana were more likely to engage in sexual activities without condom use. Conclusion: This study contributed to the existing body of knowledge on mental health and health risk behaviours among street children. The findings of this study could be used to develop appropriate interventions that support the mental health of children living on the streets.