G. Ciências Humanas - 8. Psicologia - 11. Psicologia Social
Julieta Monteiro-Leitner 1 ( e Stephen Dollinger 2
(1. Southeast Missouri State University, Department of Education Administration and Counseling, Cape Gir; 2. Southern Illinois University, Department of Psychology, Carbondale, Illinois, USA)
The present paper, which original version derives from a doctoral dissertation written in 1994, is a follow-up research of adolescents who were, at that time, 10 to 15 years old and who spent most of their time on the streets. After eleven years, who and what could they have become? The term "youth on the street" presents the "youth" (a person) and "on the street" (the environment). This binomial expression calls for the study of a group or a culture in its natural environment, i.e. an ethnographic approach (Fetterman, 1989). More than studying people, the ethnographer learns from people (Spradley, 1979). So, the task of this follow-up was to interview people who spent most of their time on the streets in 1993 and learn who they have become 11 years later. Thus we have the key elements of the dimensions of the ethnographic approach, that is, the person (in 1993 and in 2004) and the environment (the streets of Fortaleza, Brazil). Similar to the ethnographic follow-up study conducted by Hetch (2000), the authors investigated who and what these adolescents have become.
In 1993, the first author spent seven weeks with children who were registered in a social project called Quatro Varas, located in one of the poorest slums in the outskirts of Fortaleza. In order to raise funds for the project, kids go to the streets to sell the products manufactured locally. They are bags of herbal tea, syrups, extract of roots and leaves as natural medicine items. Twenty Quatro Varas participants (10 boys, 10 girls), ages ranging from 10-15 and actively involved in this program were the participants of this research. The Quatro Varas participants were usually spending an average of 10 to 12 hours on the streets in order to sell the products from Quatro Varas. When not selling the products, they were either in the facility socializing with other Quatro Varas youngsters, or doing activities related to their sale assignments such as preparing the products, organizing them in baskets. Most of the participants live at home, with their families. Seventeen out of 20 were helping their families financially with what they were earning in the sale. Thirteen of these participants were attending evening school, despite being on the streets for 10 to 12 hours.
In this report, we follow up 9 participants after 11 years. Interviews revealed somewhat more positive contemporary life circumstances for 4 of the 5 young women than for the 2 young men who were interviewed.
Although their adolescent aspirations were far from their young adult reality, they seemed to maintain a dignity of spirit as they raised their children. The young men’s situations seemed to reflect indecision, lack of opportunity and despair. Finally, the original photo essays reviewed after 11 years contained hints of the future selves that were in store for these street youth. We emphasize how participants’ lives are now and seek connections between their lives then and current situation.
Eleven years from the original ethnographic study, the senior author was able to contact five female participants and two of the male participants. Among the female participants, only Euridice took pictures depicting the street life. Euridice, who now says she does not have a home address, is living in the streets. She took the most risk in order to depict scenes of the street life, perhaps because at that time, she found it more attractive than she claimed in the interview. Antonio originally portrayed marijuana smoking as something street kids did (but not he himself). At the follow-up, he is addicted to pot, unable to hold a steady job and gets his supplies in the streets. Milton took similar photos and later became actively involved with gangs in the streets. He ended up being killed. Thus, the adolescents most inclined to depict the street in their 1993 photo essays qualitatively seemed to be the most victimized by the dangers of the street in the 2004 follow-up. Alternatively, the boy who most impressed us with his integrity, dignity and altruism in 1993, rejected his youth in favor of a religious path. We may infer, yet not conclude, that autophotographic essays may have predictive value in speculating how their lives unfolded from 1993 to the present.
Palavras-chave:  Youths on the streets; Ethnography; Photographic essays.
Anais da 57ª Reunião Anual da SBPC - Fortaleza, CE - Julho/2005