Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Pratt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Public attitudes and perceptions largely determine how and to what extent a society and its communities deal with street kids and their families. It was the purpose of the present study to discover the knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes of the Kitchener-Waterloo public regarding street kids and their families. Directors from five local agencies assisted me throughout the process of this thesis. A telephone survey was conducted with a random sample of 128 residents from all geographic areas of Kitchener-Waterloo, using a structured questionnaire. The age range of this sample was from 16 to 93 years old. Males and females were almost equally represented. Overall, participants were not too familiar with the term “street kid.” However, when asked what comes to mind when they think of this term, there was a leaning toward a negative perception of street kids and their families. Participants were not found to be very knowledgeable about street kid issues. The average score on a set of 8 true-false knowledge items was just over half correct. Overall, society was rated as more to blame for the problems of street kids than either the families or the kids. When asked who should be doing something about the problems of street kids, people felt local agencies, parents of the kids, and government were most responsible. Environmental issues were rated as the most important for respondents, followed closely by street kid issues, city bylaw issues, and finally daycare issues. Most people were at least moderately interested in more information about street kids. The more knowledgeable a person was about street kids, the more positive the perception of street kids that he or she had, and the less likely he or she was to hold parents directly responsible for the kids’ problems. In general, older adults were somewhat more likely to have a negative perception of street kids and to blame them for their problems, to dislike the families of street kids, and to view the parents as being responsible for doing something about the problems of street kids. Finally, there was some evidence for a pattern of conservative/liberal differences in opinion. Some participants viewed the problems of street kids as more the responsibility of individual families, whereas others saw them as a wider social responsibility. Implications of these findings for policy and practice are discussed.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season