Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (March 2004) 43(3): pp. 325–331. DOI: 10.1097/01.chi.0000106852.88132.c8


Copyright © 2004 The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Objective—To examine street victimization and posttraumatic stress symptoms among urban homeless adolescents and to test whether emotional numbing and avoidance represent distinct posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom clusters.

Method—Structured, private interviews were conducted with homeless adolescents (N = 374) in the Seattle metropolitan area (95% response rate) from 1995 to 1998.

Results— Eighty-three percent of street youths were physically and/or sexually victimized after leaving home. Approximately 18% of these youths met research criteria for PTSD.Results from a confirmatory factor analysis suggest that disaggregating symptoms of avoidance from symptoms of emotional numbing provides a better fit of the data than the current DSM-IV model in which these symptoms are combined in one factor.

Conclusions— Sexual and physical victimization are serious threats for homeless adolescents, and those who are victimized are at risk for PTSD. Results challenge the belief that symptoms of avoidance and numbing represent one unified cluster in this population.