Original Articles

Reconceptualising vulnerable children by acknowledging their assets


We report on a study that sought to find alternative pathways to conceptualising vulnerable children. We have extracted a section from a longitudinal study that focuses on the ways in which vulnerable children in a rural community in South Africa cope with the impact of HIV and AIDS. We relied on the concepts of assets, resources and capacities to guide our understanding of 'vulnerable children', in an attempt to open up conceptualisations of the term, which have previously almost exclusively focused on deficits and needs. The study used a case study design with a small group of children who were engaged in making memory boxes. The study shows that numerous resources and capacities for coping and well-being are evident within and around the children. Most prominent among the capacities of the participants in this study are a positive identity and essential social competencies.

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