BACKGROUND: This paper is based on data gathered from a 2006 survey of 1,098 "street children" in Northern Tanzania. It examines the role that school may play in preventing the migration of vulnerable youth to become homeless "street children". Specific focus is placed on the correlations found between children's attendance in school, their reports of abuse or support in their family, and their status of living "on the street" full-time or part-time.
METHODS: This study is from quantitative interview data gathered from 1,098 children and youth between 5 and 24 years old on the streets of Moshi and Arusha, Tanzania, over a 48-hour period during the school year on October 26th and 27th, 2006. Respondents were given survey questions about their home, school and street life experiences, in order to measure the impact of outreach work being performed by a Tanzanian NGO. Interviewers used purposive sampling, approaching all young people who appeared to be under the age of 25 years within a number of precincts in each town known to be where 'street children' were known to congregate.
RESULTS: Results suggest that regular attendance in school may be a significant protective factor for children in preventing migration to the street life. Statistical analysis revealed that those young people who dropped out of school had nearly 8 times higher chances for ending up on the streets permanently than those who attended school daily.
CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the new concept of "multi-layered social resilience", providing evidence from research completed by one NGO on how community-based organizations can help enhance resilience in a broader social context, spanning individuals, households and community structure