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Language and Sociability

Language shapes sociability among the CSS. With language and expression, they interact with their environment, build symbolic resources for survival, and form their identity. Understanding sociability is thus crucial towards understanding an element of the street regarding these children.

Expressions

It's a paradoxical reality for CSS: the discomfort in expressing affection and care. The harshness of street life often leaves these children wary of showing vulnerability. Expressing love or importance is seen as a sign of weakness, a contrast to their accustomed reality of mistreatment and abuse. They often lack the vocabulary for expressing care, leading to a significant gap between their intense emotions and the ability to articulate them.

The harshness of street life often leaves children wary of showing vulnerability. We can find similarities in the TV shows about the Vikings. Expressing the need for love is seen as a sign of weakness, and this may be true across cultures. They often lack the vocabulary for expressing care, leading to a significant gap between their intense emotions and the ability to articulate them. This should make us wonder: how do these children throw a tantrum?

How do girls fare on the streets?

The example of Ricardo is taken from an academic text by the scholar Riccardo Lucchini. Ricardo is a boy in street situations in a Latin American city. With regards to girls, Ricardo claims that there is no difference between them and boys. It is not their gender that distinguishes between girls and boys, but their skills and competences. It is often very difficult to distinguish a girl from a boy in younger CSS. When the girls start to get older, they are subject to constant threats of assault by adult men who do not belong to the same world but are also present on the street: police, criminals, passersby etc.

Sexist prejudices are subordinated to meritocracy on the streets. Indeed, each is given the opportunity to demonstrate his or her skills. As Ricardo says, girls take their place on the street, and this place is respected by boys because it is defined by competence. Boys can come to the defence of girls when they are assaulted. This protection is not given to all girls, but only to those who ‘deserve it’. The right to respect is not a natural right but one that is earned.

Coarse Language

Verbal aggression among CSS is a complex mix of cognitive limitations and cultural influences. However, it's essential to understand that their coarse language and crudeness often serve as mechanisms for interaction regulation, rather than literal expressions of hostility. This form of verbal jousting helps in de-escalating potential violence, transforming words into a non-literal, competitive game rather than a precursor to physical confrontation.

Verbal aggression among CSS is a mix of cultural logic and cognitive limitations. Coarse language and crudeness often do not carry literal meaning. Crudeness often serves as a mechanism for the regulation of interactions. The form of verbal jousting helps in de-escalating potential violence, transforming words into a non-literal, competitive game rather than a precursor to physical confrontation.

Interestingly, with habitual use, coarse language loses its positive or negative connotations, morphing into neutral, rhythmic elements of speech. This evolution underscores the adaptability and resilience of these children in using language as a tool for survival.

Conversational Prowess as a Survival Skill

Conversational skills are often more important than physical prowess, as mastery in verbal expression garners respect and admiration. However, individuals experiencing a multitude of conflicting emotions such as hope, fear, constraint, and freedom often find it challenging to articulate these feelings. This can lead to confusion not only for themselves but also for those outside their circles. This difficulty in communication often hampers the efforts of street educators and social workers in understanding and assisting them.

The children's orientation toward 'immediate gratification,' focusing on short-term rewards rather than long-term goals, is a behaviour that is often misinterpreted as a lack of emotional control or delinquency. In reality, it is a sophisticated adaptation to their environment, often serving as a means of competition for the resources they can extract from social workers and educators.

References:

  1. Aptekar, L. (1988a). Street children of Cali. Durham: Duke University Press.
  2. Connoly, M. (1990). Adrift in the city: A comparative study of the street children in Bogotá, Colombia and Guatemala city. In N. A. Boxill (Ed.), Homeless children, the watchers and waiters (pp. 129–149). New York: The Haworth Press.
  3. Visano, L. (1990). The socialisation of street children: The development and transformation of identities. Sociological Studies of Child Development, 3, 139–161.
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