Safety Considerations

During this project, we took into account many key aspects of safety, working hard to express caution and be aware of potential harmful situations.

Sponsors and co-researchers said that the street community could be relatively violent; therefore, increasing awareness of physical safety was a reasonable precaution. For instance, within SDR, though uncommon, fights occasionally occurred in our presence. We adapted to these situations by removing ourselves from the area where the altercation was taking place and avoided any involvement, including intervening or spectating.

As another precaution, when we ventured out of SDR to speak to other street people, co-researchers were always present and led the way. As street people themselves, they would consulted only with those they knew and trusted. We were easy targets for potential begging, mugging, and pick-pocketing because often stuck out as tourists because of our clothing and baggage, and having co-researchers with us eliminated this potential problem.

Protests were also a potential safety hazard. In order to get to many locations for the project, we would have to go through downtown, where many protests took place. To avoid any possible trouble with police and getting caught up in the protests, we would take different routes led by co-researchers.

The emotional toll of working with street people was also another factor. Many of the people of the street community are vulnerable and have experienced many hardships in their lives. Hearing their difficult experiences left team members full of conflicting feelings. In these instances, we had open discussions, allowing us to process and express our feelings and opinions in an understanding atmosphere.

Not only did we take our safety into account but also the safety of the street people involved in this project as well. For instance, we asked for consent before any documentation of stories, such as taking pictures and asking sensitive questions. Sponsors informed us of certain implications some people face by having their picture taken.  Additionally, we informed individuals that at any time during the interview they were not required to answer a question they did not feel comfortable answering. In the cases of documenting and picture-taking, we ensured that individuals remained comfortable and were not coerced to do anything they were unwilling to do.

For information focused on ethical considerations, please see the Ethics Page.