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One hundred and fifty-six homeless adolescents and 319 homeless adults interviewed directly on the streets and in shelters were compared for backgrounds of abuse, adaptations to life on the streets, and rates of criminal victimization when on the streets. Homeless adolescents were more likely to be from abusive family backgrounds, more likely to rely on deviant survival strategies, and more likely to be criminally victimized. A social learning model of adaptation and victimization on the streets was hypothesized. Although the model was supported for both homeless adults and adolescents, it was more strongly supported for adolescents than adults, and for males than females regardless of age.