Supporting Child-Headed Households in South Africa: Whose Best Interests?
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SourceJournal of Southern African Studies, 35, 4, (2009), pp. 915-927
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
Journal of Southern African Studies
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
This article examines assumptions about the provision of support for children and young people in child-headed households in sub-Saharan Africa. The South African example is used to assess appropriate family- and community-based support and assistance. The South African Children's Act proposes that child-headed households should be supported by an adult mentor, who will act in the children and young people's best interests. However, qualitative research among child-headed households in Port Elizabeth shows that so-called 'adult support' mostly does not contribute to children and young people's well-being. Children and young people often are not consulted about care arrangements, are not taken seriously, or are even worse off after adult interventions, resulting in many having a sense of powerlessness over their situation. An emphasis on access to social grants increases the potential for abuse of these youngsters. The study reveals the value of taking generational constructions into account in assessing current practice and developing more appropriate support arrangements.
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