Living with Mental Distress, Social Anger, and In Group Commitment among Working Children: A Qualitative Study

Haleh Jafari, Shokoh Varaei, Serge Brand, Nahid Dehghan Nayeri, Nematollah Fazeli, Fatemeh Khoshnavay Fomani, Alireza Nikbakht Nasrabadi


Background: Working as a child can have various effects on all aspects of children’s health. Investigating and identifying issues related to the health of working children can be useful in promoting their health. Therefore, in this qualitative study, we examined issues related to the mental health and behavior of working children.

Materials and Methods: This qualitative study was conducted in Tehran, Iran, in 2021 with the contractual content analysis approach. The main participants (N = 32) in this study were working children aged 10 to 18 years. To collect data, in‑depth and semi‑structured interviews were conducted with working children, their parents, and the center officials. In addition to the interview, some field notes were also taken from interactions between working children. After each interview, they were transcribed and coded. After 27 interviews, the data were saturated, no new code was extracted, and further interviews were conducted to ensure data saturation. Data analysis was performed based on the proposed method of Lundman and Graneheim.

Results: The results revealed the three main categories of mental distress (fear and anxiety, depression, loneliness and isolation, decreased self‑confidence, and decentralized mind), social anger (negative social role modeling, harassment and harm of others, reprehensible and antisocial behavior, disregard for the property of others, disrupted relationships, and violence), and in‑group commitment (self‑censorship outside the group, individual independence and group cohesion, and caring for the group).

Conclusions: Most working children suffer from various forms of mental and behavioral issues, which, if not taken care of, can have irreparable consequences.


Child labor, mental health, social behaviors, qualitative research

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