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Urban female youth and their relationship with public space

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Whether the use of public space positively or negatively affects the development of youth is a long-standing debate in urban development. Those youth whose behaviour does not conform to the status quo of how space 'should' be used are often viewed as troublemakers. This paper examines how and why a group of marginalized female youth use public space. Through personal interviews with 10 female youth, aged 15-22, their physical and emotional use of public space is explored. When the youth experienced instability in their personal lives, they could find social support and a sense of community through their interactions in public places. As the stability in their personal lives increased, their use of public space decreased. Their use of public space was shaped by issues of proximity, presence of adult authority, safety, and acceptance and belonging.
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