Child abuse, mental health and sleeping arrangements among homeless youth: Links to physical and sexual street victimization
Date of this Version
Children and Youth Services Review 95 (2018) 327–333.
Physical safety is a primary concern among homeless youth because they struggle to secure basic necessities and a permanent place to live. Despite this, studies have not fully examined the numerous linkages that might explain risk for victimization within the context of material insecurity. In this study, we examine multiple levels of both proximal and distal risk factors at the individual (e.g. mental health), family (e.g. child abuse), and environmental levels (e.g. finding necessities) and their associations with physical and sexual street victimization among 150 Midwestern homeless youth. Results from path analyses show that child physical abuse is positively associated with anxiety, depressive symptoms, locating necessities, and street physical victimization. Having difficulties finding basic necessities is positively correlated with street physical victimization. Experiencing child sexual abuse is positively associated with street sexual victimization. Additionally, sleeping at certain locations (e.g. violence shelter, in a car) is associated with less sexual street victimization compared to temporarily staying with a family member. These findings have implications for service providers working to improve the safety and well-being of homeless youth.