Homeless Youths' Caretakers: The Mediating Role of Childhood Abuse on Street Victimization and Housing Instability

Slesnick, N.,
Zhang, J.,
Brakenhoff, B.
Year Published: 2016
Journal Article
Journal Name: 
Social Work
Volume: 61

Issue: 2
National Association of Social Workers

Homeless youths who live on the streets are particularly vulnerable to victimization and continued homelessness. In this study, the authors examined how childhood experiences of instability, assessed as the number of caretaker transitions, and childhood maltreatment are related to later housing instability and victimization experiences in a sample of 79 substance-using, street-living youths (ages 14 to 24 years). Findings confirmed a relationship between multiple caretaker transitions and childhood sexual abuse and neglect, but not physical abuse. Sexual abuse was further associated with greater street victimization and reduced housing stability. In addition, sexual abuse mediated the link between multiple caretakers and housing instability. The findings suggest that sexually abused homeless youths are at particular risk for future victimization and housing instability, requiring specialized intervention for these youths. Modified Author Abstract.

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