The paper investigates the support mechanisms existing among the street children in coping with street life in Nigeria with a view to proffer workable solutions to their problems. The study was carried out in the cities of Lagos, Kaduna and Port Harcourt. A structured questionnaire was administered among a convenience sample of 500 street children and 6 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted among different social categories of community members on gender basis in each of the three cities. Findings showed that a high proportion of the street children were between the ages of 6 and 18 years and there were more males (83.1%) than females (16.9%). Street children adopt varieties of strategies to cope with street life. In the total sample, 32.4% engage in hawking, while 16.4% beg for alms in order to survive. The FGDs revealed that street children employ other strategies. These include forming street gangs, theft and robbery and drug pushing. Many street children smoke Indian hemp to cope with street life. Other sources of help showed the homeless adult on the street as the most helpful (μ = 3.26) and the Government Agencies as the least helpful (μ = 1.78). The study concludes that it is imperative to target the homeless adults for rehabilitation and use such adults as links for the provision of necessary support for street children in order to enhance their coping with the street life. Similarly, policies directed at street children should involve community based strategies.
Keywords: Coping, Street, children, Strategies, Homeless adults