The impact of home background on the decision of children to run away: the case of Yaounde City street children in Cameroon

Child Abuse Negl. 1999 Mar;23(3):245-55. doi: 10.1016/s0145-2134(98)00130-6.


Objective: This study sets out to investigate the phenomenon of street children and its relationship to their home background. The project stemmed from the fact that there is an enormous increase of children nowadays roaming the streets. Our premordial aim here is to investigate whether misunderstanding between parents and their children resulting from home-rearing patterns can influence children to run away from home.

Method: The research was carried out in specific areas of the Yaounde urban center where most of these delinquent children have their meeting points. Out of about 900 street children, 21 of them were sampled for this exercise. The nonprobability or purposive sampling technique was used. The main tool for data collection was the questionnaire. Two hypotheses were formulated and tested with the chi-square test of independence.

Results: From the data analysis, there is a highly positive relationship (chi2 = 68.0, P = .001 ) existing between home-rearing patterns and the children found in the street. The analysis also stipulates that there is an equally positive but low relationship (chi2 = 10.5, P = .05 existing between the level of family income and children running away from home.

Conclusions: From the analysis of fundings, it can be concluded that the economic crisis which many Cameroonian families are facing cannot be considered as a major factor responsible for children abandoning the home for the street as family income has been shown to have only a weak connection with the street children phenomenon. On the contrary, authoritarian parenting which characterizes 62.86% of parents is revealed as the major factor responsible for children running away from home. The researcher recommends that interventions should focus on how parents treat their children without neglecting to deal with the means required to meet family needs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cameroon
  • Child
  • Child Rearing*
  • Decision Making*
  • Homeless Youth*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Parenting
  • Permissiveness
  • Runaway Behavior* / economics
  • Runaway Behavior* / psychology