Ontological Certainty in Homeless Children

Sona Vavrova, Alice Gojova, Katerina Glumbikova

OBJECTIVES: The aim of the article is to describe the behaviour connected with the ontological (un)certainty of “homeless” children living in shelters or in dormitories, and to analyze their activities supporting their (re-)acquisition of ontological certainty. THEORETICAL BASE: In the situation of displacement, homeless people lose not only their home, but also their place in the majority society, thus the sources of their ontological certainty. METHODS: Data obtained from in-depth interview sets with nineteen children aged 8 to 15, (their) nine parents, and key social workers dealing with the given families were analyzed using constructivist grounded theory. OUTCOMES: Research results show that children encounter two major interacting components contributing to the sense of ontological uncertainty: (1) a component containing elements of the inner family environment and (2) a component containing elements of the external environment. In this system, children apply their own practice of gaining access to sources of ontological certainty that meet their needs of “having their own peace”, “having their own place”, “having their own secrets”, “belonging somewhere” and “having their own person”. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: Getting to know the mechanisms of (re-)acquiring ontological certainty in “homeless” children appears to be necessary for the holistic assessment of the threat to these children and for setting goals during individual planning.

homeless families, underage children, ontological certainty



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