Returning to streets after family reintegration an exploratory study of experiences of street children in Mbale, Eastern Uganda
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Street children are among the most physically visible of all children, live and work on roads and public squares of cities all over the world. Yet, paradoxically, they are also among the most 'invisible' and therefore hardest children by vital services such as education and healthcare, and are therefore the most difficult to protect. The phenomenon of street children becoming a huge problem in poor countries like Uganda, demonstrating a breakdown of traditional social security systems. The main objective of this study was to establish factors in the home environment, in the community and on streets that force children to return on streets after family reintegration. Purposive sampling procedure was used to select 20 respondents who were street children formerly reintegrated and but later returned to streets. Data was collected through face to face indepth interviews and analysed thematically. The family factors responsible for failed reintegration include broken families, mistreatment, and poverty, imprisonment of parents and death of parents, drug abuse and alcoholism. At the community level, factors were proximity to town, community attitudes, peer pressure, hostility from teachers and community leaders. Street related factors include the allure of freedom, access to adequate food, access to narcotics and money. The study concludes that reintegration programmes adopt a simplistic approach that does not take into account the intricacies and realities of each individual child. The study recommends that integration programmes need to take a holistic approach that targets the ecological setting of each child, taking into account the unique circumstances for each child.