Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Children and Youth Services Review 34:12 (December 2012), pp. 2481–2486; doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.09.012


Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Although previous research shows that homeless youth engage in numerous risky sexual behaviors, little is known about whether or not specific rules govern this conduct within their social networks and how group norms influence subsequent sexual actions. The current study utilizes 19 in-depth interviews with homeless youth to investigate different elements of their sexual behavior. Findings reveal that their decision to have sex generally depends on chemistry and physical appearance whereas a potential partner’s risky sexual history and heavy substance use discourages youth from engaging in sex. Both males and females discuss condom usage as it relates to unknown sexual history, availability, pregnancy, and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sixteen homeless youth indicate that they do not discuss safe sex practices with their partners or social network members.

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