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Sexual risk, substance use, mental health, and trauma experiences of gang-involved homeless youth
Year Published: 2016
Journal of Adolescence
These authors explored how varying levels of lifetime gang involvement are related to present day sexual risk behaviors, substance use, mental health, and trauma in a sample of Los Angeles-based homeless youths (n=505). Youth reported health information and whether they had ever identified as or been closely associated with a gang member. Seventeen percent of the youths had ever identified as a gang member and 46 percent as gang affiliated. Both gang members and affiliates were at greater risk for multiple negative behaviors than non-gang involved youths. Gang members and affiliates were more likely to report recent methamphetamine use, cocaine use, chronic marijuana use, having sex while intoxicated, and symptoms of depression, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. They were also more likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse and witnessed family violence. Gang members were more likely to ever attempt suicide, experience recent partner violence, and report physical abuse during childhood. Modified Author Abstract.