Child & Youth Care Forum

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 197–208 | Cite as

What Does it Mean to be an Adult? Perceptions of Young Men in Residential Care

  • Ivan Raymond
  • Karen Heseltine
Original Paper


It is widely accepted that young people residing in residential care transition to independence and adult responsibilities earlier than peers living within their family of origin. There has been a lack of literature examining the way young people in care construct this transition. In response, in-depth qualitative interviews, guided by grounded theory, were conducted with nine young men (M = 15.9 years) residing in an Australian residential care program. The construction of adult identity was aged dependent, and represented by the attainment of self- and other-responsibility and behavioural maturity. Rites or role transitions signifying adult identity were also explored. Program and policy implications are tabled.


Residential care Identity development Construction of adulthood Rites 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

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